Virginia governor critical of Trump’s coronavirus response in first appearance since testing positive

About 65 staff members who had close contact with the Northams were told to ­self-isolate for two weeks. Northam said none tested positive, which he called “a testament” to the value of wearing masks.

He noted that masks protected several staff members who could not physically distance from him before he tested positive, including a press secretary, photographer and security detail who traveled in an SUV and airplane with Northam.

He contrasted that with the largely mask-free Rose Garden ceremony last month that Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, has called a superspreader event. Trump, first lady Melania Trump and several others subsequently tested positive for the virus.

“No masks, no social distancing — and look at the number of people that tested positive,” Northam said Tuesday, referring to the White House event. “We talk about science, it doesn’t get any clearer than that . . . I would remind every Virginian: Masks are scientifically proven to reduce the spread of this disease, plain and simple.”

Northam, a former Army doctor and pediatrician, said his and his wife’s symptoms were mild. He warned Virginians not to let down their guard, particularly as cooler fall temperatures and shrinking daylight hours make outdoor socializing less appealing.

The governor said he is unlikely to ease pandemic-related restrictions in the near term. He acknowledged pressure to return to in-person education at public schools but urged continued caution.

“Numbers are going up in a number of states across this country, so we’re not out of the woods,” he said. “We’re nowhere close to being out of the woods.”

The greater Washington region on Tuesday reported 1,763 additional coronavirus cases and 20 deaths. Virginia added 1,235 cases and 11 deaths, Maryland added 482 cases and nine deaths, and the District added 46 cases and no deaths.

Virginia’s daily caseload was above its rolling seven-day average, lifting that number to 1,089 — the state’s highest daily average since Aug. 13.

The seven-day average in Northern Virginia rose Tuesday to 264 cases, a four-month high in the region.

Daily caseloads Tuesday in Maryland and the District were below their rolling seven-day averages. It’s the third consecutive day that both jurisdictions reported new infections at or below their recent average amid an uptick that began earlier this month.

The recent caseload rise across the region has coincided with the outbreak at the White House, although local health officials have said it’s unclear whether there’s a connection.

Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.

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Trump Signals Improving Health With Appearance For Supporters

US President Donald Trump waved at supporters from a motorcade Sunday on a short drive outside the hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19.

The outing came minutes after the president had announced “a surprise” for fans, and it appeared designed to personally take back the narrative on his improving health after a weekend of confused and contradictory messaging from the White House and Trump’s medical team.

This White House handout photo released October 4, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump working in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland a day earlier after testing positive for Covid-19 This White House handout photo released October 4, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump working in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland a day earlier after testing positive for Covid-19 Photo: The White House / Joyce N. BOGHOSIAN

Seen in a dark face mask and waving, the president rolled past delighted supporters before returning to the Walter Reed military hospital near Washington.

“We’re going to pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots that we have out on the street,” Trump had said in a video posted to Twitter moments earlier.

“I’m about to make a little surprise visit.”

US President Donald Trump was said to be doing "well" although there was confusion over mixed messaging from his medical team US President Donald Trump was said to be doing “well” although there was confusion over mixed messaging from his medical team Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB

Trump, who has been repeatedly rebuked for flouting public health guidelines and spreading misinformation on the pandemic, added that he had “learned a lot about Covid” by “really going to school,” as he has battled the virus.

“This is the real school. This isn’t the ‘let’s read the books school,’ and I get it, and I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing,” he added.

But the decision to leave his hospital suite was immediately criticized by the medical community, who voiced bafflement that the president wasn’t being kept isolated as he is treated for the highly contagious viral infection.

The celebration for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on September 26 is thought to have been the source of new infections inside the president's inner circle The celebration for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on September 26 is thought to have been the source of new infections inside the president’s inner circle Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / CHIP SOMODEVILLA

“That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack,” said James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University.

“The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play.”

US President Donald Trump US says he is doing well, but that the next few days will be the "rel test". He posted a video on Twitter ahead of a second night in hospital, where he is being treated for Covid-19. US President Donald Trump US says he is doing well, but that the next few days will be the “real test”. He posted a video on Twitter ahead of a second night in hospital, where he is being treated for Covid-19. Photo: TWITTER / @realDonaldTrump

The episode came hours after a briefing by Trump’s medical team, who said he had “continued to improve” and could be returned to the White House, which has all the necessary equipment and expertise to continue his treatment, as early as Monday.

The celebration for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on September 26 is thought to have been the source of new infections inside the president's inner circle The celebration for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on September 26 is