President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming one of the latest GOP officials to test positive for the virus. There has been a sprawling list of officials within President Trump’s inner circle who have tested positive to the coronavirus within the week, a sad development for the president’s re-election efforts with barely a month to the poll.

Bill Stepien became aware of his results on Friday, according to a senior campaign official privy to the development. The official said Stepien, who clinched the job only in July, has put a series of strategies in place to oversee campaign efforts from self-quarantine.

On Thursday, the president himself announced he and the First Lady, Melania Trump, have tested positive for coronavirus, and that he would begin self-quarantine immediately. He was moved to the Walter Reed Medical Center, just outside of Washington, to begin treatment.

Meanwhile, another senior White House official, Hope Hicks, has tested positive to the coronavirus – a development that critics of the president will probably latch on to further pillory the president’s handling of the pandemic since its outbreak.

At least seven Republican politicians and close confidantes have tested positive for the coronavirus amongst Trump’s team. This list includes former White House counselor and Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and head of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel.

Stepien’s positive status to the coronavirus is becoming public knowledge days after the presidential debate, in which he told reporters that Trump’s campaign would not be changing its rule after many criticisms ensued following the debates which went out of control.

It is not immediately known how Trump’s campaign team will handle further debates that have been scheduled for this month. Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark is expected to take over the Arlington, VA headquarters of the campaign while Stepien will work from home.

With senior members of the Trump’s campaign team down with the coronavirus, close confidantes of the president are looking into having virtual events going forward. People in the inner circle of Trump’s team will be looking at standing in for senior officials who will be unavoidably absent.

They include Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric, and the president’s daughter-in-law, Laura Trump. Everyone one of them has tested negative for the coronavirus.

The latest happenings within the Trump inner circle, brought about by the widespread infections of the coronavirus, is expected to become the talking points of the campaign as it moves to its final leg. This is what the president may have been trying to avoid all along. And now, it is left to be seen how the president and his team will handle this significant setback to his re-election bid.

Source: politico.com