NEW JERSEY — Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that President Donald Trump and his staff “acted recklessly” in visiting New Jersey despite knowledge that one of their top advisers had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Trump aide Hope Hicks entered quarantine Wednesday after displaying mild symptoms (what Thursday was confirmed as COVID-19). Even so, Trump held a re-election fundraiser Thursday at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster.
Soon after both the president and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the respiratory virus that has been linked to the deaths of over 16,000 people in the Garden State alone.
“This is not a matter of politics, but a matter of humanity...this is also a matter of leadership by example,” Murphy shared during a media briefing out of the George Washington Ballroom in Trenton on Monday. “This is not the first time we've seen that absence of leadership. Or the only time this is the latest chapter in a long series of chapters over the past seven months with things like developing and engendering a political debate over masks as an example when there should be none associated with it.”
Murphy, as he’s done at hundreds of press conferences since the outbreak began to take hold in New Jersey in March, said decisions from officials should be based on science rather than politics.
In an earlier interview with CBS, Murphy said, “people have a right to be upset and angry" following the president's actions.
“Particularly folks that have been doing all the right things at every step of the way. ... I hope it’s a wakeup call,” he said. “It’s now a long book with lots of chapters of indoor behavior, no face coverings, no social distancing. It can’t go on. I hope to God this gets through to everybody.”
Anyone that attended the Bedminster event should be tested, Murphy said. In addition, he believes they should observe a 14-day quarantine regardless of test results.
“Reports suggest the event itself may not have complied with our current rules, which may have put others at risk if we continue to investigate these reports,” Murphy said during his Monday coronavirus update.
This evening, Trump left from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland - with plans to receive medical care from the White House.
Others connected to the president have since tested positive as well, including former NJ Gov. Chris Christie (currently receiving treatment in Morristown), former advisor Kellyanne Conway and campaign manager Bill Stepien.