Trump's Mar-a-Lago club closed for deep cleaning after coronavirus cases confirmed among visitors

The move takes place after a numerous people who visited the "Winter White House" tested positive for COVID-19

By Matthew Rozsa
Published March 16, 2020 3:04PM (EDT)

Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump's Florida resort, closed for a deep cleaning Monday after multiple cases of coronavirus were confirmed among individuals who recently visited the Palm Beach club.

With the exception of its beach club, the entire "Winter White House" closed so the cleaning could be performed, according to CNN. The extreme measure was taken after a number of people who visited the president's club tested positive for COVID-19, including the press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's chargé d'affaires in Washington and one of the 900 people who attended a Trump Victory fundraiser brunch March 8. The president gave a speech and participated in a photo line with roughly 70 to 100 people during that event.

"We unfortunately write today to notify you that an attendee at the Trump Victory-sponsored event you attended at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday, March 8, has tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19)," Trump Victory, an organization comprised of elements of Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee, wrote in a Friday email. "We do not know if the individual had the virus by the time of the event, but out of an abundance of caution, wanted to call this to your attention."

Trump has been heavily criticized for the bungled response to the COVID-19 outbreak, both in terms of his personal actions and public policy decisions. Despite being potentially exposed to the virus himself at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, Trump refused to take a medical test to determine if he contracted the disease for more than a week after possible exposure was established. Trump's in-house doctor released a letter Friday arguing that the president should not have to take a test, because he did not exhibit symptoms and was "LOW risk." The president finally capitulated to criticism, and the results of his Friday night test were negative.

Trump interacted with a number of individuals at CPAC who were exposed to an infected attendee, including Reps. Doug Collins of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida. Both men moved to self-quarantine, as did Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rick Scott of Florida. Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who is Trump's incoming chief-of-staff, also self-quarantined after being potentially exposed to the virus.

Trump also faces criticism over policies that weakened America's ability to fight the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The administration disbanded its global health security team in 2018. It asked for a $65 million budget cut to the CDC's small center on emerging and zoonotic (meaning animal-to-human transmitted) infectious diseases in 2018 (or a 10% cut), then a 19% reduction in 2019 and a 20% reduction in 2020. 

While most of this funding was restored by Congress, Trump still succeeded in reducing the overall spending for relevant CDC programs by 10% from what it was in 2016 after being adjusted for inflation. He also proposed cutting the overall CDC budget by $1.3 billion in the 2020 fiscal year.

Trump has also lied about important details regarding the outbreak. He falsely claimed that a vaccine was being developed "rapidly," that diagnoses in the U.S were "going very substantially down — not up," contested the World Health Organization's claim that the disease has a 3.4% mortality rate and told the public that tests are available to anyone who wants them.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Aggregate Coronavirus Covid-19 Donald Trump Health Mar-a-lago Politics