White House says Trump won’t follow New Jersey quarantine order because he’s “not a civilian”

The White House said Wednesday that President Trump will not follow a New Jersey quarantine policy when he travels there this weekend because he is “not a civilian” and anyone who comes near him is tested to make sure they don’t have COVID-19. The president traveled this week to Arizona, a current hot spot in the pandemic, and New Jersey is mandating that visitors from that state are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“The president of the United States is not a civilian,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a press statement. “Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests, and press are tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative.”

Mr. Trump is planning to spend the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. His trip will come just days after he traveled to Arizona this week to see construction on the border wall and attend a campaign event at a Phoenix megachurch. 

On Wednesday, the governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut jointly announced that visitors from several states that have seen surging coronavirus cases will have to self-quarantine for 14 days or face a fine. The order applies to visitors from Arizona, as well as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas. 

Deere said that the White House followed its “COVID mitigation plan” during Mr. Trump’s Arizona trip “to ensure the President did not come into contact with anyone who was symptomatic or had not been tested.”

“Anyone traveling in support of the president this weekend will be closely monitored for symptoms and tested for COVID and therefore pose little to no risk to the local populations,” he said, adding that the president and his staff “pose little to no risk to local populations.”

New Jersey was one of the worst-hit states in the U.S., with over 173,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 13,000 deaths, but the number of new cases there has been steadily declining since its peak in April. Arizona, meanwhile, was one of seven states this week that saw its highest single-day total for new cases, with the state health department reporting 3,591 cases on Tuesday, the day of Mr. Trump’s visit.

The New Jersey governor told CNN that he considers the president to be an essential worker, and thus exempt from the quarantine order.

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