Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that during debate preparation for President Donald Trump, who has since tested positive for the coronavirus, none of the people present wore masks.
“No one was wearing masks in the room when we were prepping the president during that period of time,” Christie said. “And the group was about five or six people, in total.”
Christie said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he visited the White House to help the president practice for the debate from Saturday through Tuesday. He was tested every day he was there. Christie said the last test he took was Tuesday morning and that it was negative. He said he was going to take another test Friday.
“I feel fine. I don’t feel any symptoms at this time,” Christie added.
Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus. The announcement came hours after it was made public than senior White House adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus.
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Christie said he did not notice any symptoms in Trump, Hicks “or anybody else I interacted with at the White House.”
CNN reported at least some of Trump’s debate preparation took place around a table in the White House Map Room. According to The Associated Press, Trump’s prep team included Christie, Hicks, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, campaign communications strategist Jason Miller, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and communications director Alyssa Farah.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear a mask if they are around people who aren’t part of their household. The CDC recommends people wear face coverings, even if they do not feel sick, because many people infected with COVID-19 do not experience symptoms but are still capable of spreading the virus.
The president has rarely worn a mask in public. He has occasionally endorsed their use, but also has openly questioned their effectiveness and has mocked Democratic opponent Joe Biden, who regularly wears a mask, for wearing them.
“I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said of Biden during the debate. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200-feet away from – and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
At Tuesday’s debate, Trump said he thought “masks are OK.” After producing a mask from his jacket pocket, he said, “I put a mask on when I think I need it. Tonight, as an example, everybody had a test and you had social distancing and all the things that you have to.”
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who hosted the debate, said the rules called for everyone attending to wear a mask, except for Trump, Biden and himself. Wallace said Friday members of the Trump family flouted those rules. Though they wore masks when they entered the debate hall, they took them off after being seated.
He said a safety personnel member from the Cleveland Clinic came up to the family when they were seated and offered them masks in case they didn’t have them “and they were waved away.”
“And people in the hall noticed that they weren’t wearing masks and everybody else in the hall was wearing a mask,” Wallace said. “When the debate ended, Mrs. Trump came over, walked past me, she was not wearing a mask. Mrs. Biden walked past me to her husband and she was wearing a mask. So there was a difference in the way the two families and their camps treated the health safety regulations inside the hall.”
Contributing: Joey Garrison and Ledyard King