WASHINGTON (CN) — The White House confirmed Monday that its most senior official so far has tested positive for the coronavirus: national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien.
Frequent and close-contact meetings with the president is a hallmark of the top national security role, but the White House said O’Brien has been self-isolating and working from a secure, off-site location.
“There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president,” the White House said in a morning statement. “The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted.
It added that the senior adviser “has mild symptoms.”
Senior White House staff have confirmed that staffers are being tested for the virus daily before coming into close contact with President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
Earlier this year, a personal valet to the president and Pence’s press secretary were among the more than 4 million Americans to test positive for the virus, as the U.S. death toll climbs higher while European countries and other parts of the world begin to loosen lockdown restrictions.
It remains unconfirmed whether O’Brien contracted Covid-19 while on a trip to Paris this month where he met with European counterparts. He stepped into the senior position after John Bolton left the White House amid a rift with the president.
Bloomberg News first reported Monday that O’Brien had fallen sick after a family event.
The Monday morning announcement from the White House follows a shift in rhetoric from the president over the state of the country’s deadly outbreak.
“It will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better,” Trump told reporters at the White House last week.
The president also encouraged Americans to wear face masks after previously pushing back against his own advisers’ directions to don such protective equipment.
“We have experts that have said in the recent past that masks aren’t exactly good to wear, you know that. But now they’ve changed their mind,” the president said.
Nearly 147,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of July 27, according to global health experts at John Hopkins University.