New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy slammed President Trump for holding a high-dollar fundraiser in the state less than one day before he tested positive for COVID-19, accusing the president of needlessly exposing attendees to the virus.
“The knowledge that they had before they left for New Jersey — that there was exposure to a COVID-positive individual — that trip was completely unacceptable, completely reckless and completely uncalled for,” Murphy, a Democrat, said during a press conference on Monday. “We don’t need folks coming in, knowingly exposed to a COVID-positive individual, and then be in the midst of a couple of hundred people in New Jersey. That’s the last thing we need.”
Murphy said the state is investigating reports that the event, held at Trump National Golf Club, “may not have complied” with state coronavirus rules.
“Any failures to comply with our emergency orders will be referred to @NewJerseyOAG for a follow-up,” he tweeted.
While the event was largely outdoors, Trump did meet with a small group indoors for about 45 minutes to an hour, according to philanthropist and GOP donor Rich Roberts. Roberts told The Lakewood Scoop, a local news site, that about 19 people were seated at a rectangular table around the president.
Guests did not wear masks during the roundtable discussion, Roberts said during a separate interview with the Asbury Park Press. Roberts said he did not intend to be tested for COVID-19, but will be quarantining at his home.
Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted COVID-19. The president was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center later that evening “out of an abundance of caution,” the White House said. He was released on Monday and will continue his treatment from the White House.
State health officials have already started the contact tracing process, and the health department said it has received a list of the 206 individuals and the 19 staff members who worked the event, Murphy said.
“This entire event and everything associated with it is troubling, and it is being followed up on best we can and as aggressively as we can here in New Jersey,” the governor said during an interview with “CBS This Morning.”
Attendees of the fundraiser had few public concerns about contracting COVID-19 despite potential exposure to the virus during the commander in chief’s reelection event.
Rik Mehta, a pharmacist and attorney who is running for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Cory Booker, said he attended the event but did not come into contact with the president, who spoke outdoors to socially distanced, mask-wearing guests.
“He looked great, he was charismatic and energetic,” Mehta tweeted Friday. “I wish him and the First lady well and I’m confident they will make a full recovery!”
The median incubation period for the virus is five days, according to infectious disease experts. The CDC recommends that anyone who knows they were exposed to the virus should quarantine at home for 14 days; separate themselves from others and monitor their health.
New Jersey was one of the country’s early epicenters of the virus, which infected more than 210,000 and killed more than 16,100 in the state.
There are more than 7.4 million cases in the U.S., the most in the world. The virus has killed more than 210,000 Americans.