Notre Dame president, 2 senators test positive for COVID-19 after White House visit

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins all tested positive for the coronavirus nearly a week after visiting the White House. 

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Both visited the White House on Saturday for President Donald Trump’s announcement that he had nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Lee tweeted a statement Friday morning saying that he was experiencing symptoms consistent with longtime allergies, but had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lee wrote that he will remain in isolation for the next 10 days.

Tillis posted a confirmation of his positive result to Twitter. 

"Thankfully, I have no symptoms and feel well. COVID is a very contagious virus," Tillis wrote. 

Tillis added that he had tested negative for coronavirus when he had visited the White House on Saturday. 

Jenkins had issued an apology on Monday for not wearing a mask during the White House event after pictures surfaced online of him shaking hands and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with people without one.

“I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,” Jenkins wrote in his letter to students, faculty and staff. “I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.”

According to a Notre Dame spokesperson, Jenkins learned that a colleague with whom he was in regular contact had tested positive for COVID-19. Jenkins was immediately tested and later found to have contracted the virus. The university spokesperson said Jenkins will enter an “extended period of isolation as indicated by University medical personnel and county health officials.” 

“My symptoms are mild and I will continue work from home,” Jenkins said. “The positive test is a good reminder for me and perhaps for all of how vigilant we need to be.”

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Lee and Jenkins’ disclosures comes after Trump said in a Thursday tweet that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. Lee said in his statement that he had tested negative for the virus when he visited the White House for Saturday’s event, which featured little social distancing and few masks.

The Utah Republican also met with Barrett on Tuesday in the Capitol. The two sat in chairs that were distanced several feet apart but took a photo before the meeting in which they were closer together. He also spoke to reporters after the meeting, removing his mask in front of the cameras as most lawmakers generally do.

Prior to the announcements from both Jenkins and Lee, the White House announced that Barrett had tested negative for the virus. 

White House spokesman Judd Deere also told Fox News that Barrett is tested daily for the coronavirus and has tested negative, including on Friday morning, and that she is following CDC guidelines on mask-wearing and social distancing.

The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this story.