President Trump steps off Air Force One in Minneapolis on Wednesday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's aides aren't answering basic questions about "who knew what when" about his coronavirus diagnosis — and a lot of those questions are coming from inside the house.

Why it matters: Some current and former White House officials have been privately complaining about the reckless attitude internally toward social distancing and mask wearing, feeling they are being put at risk unnecessarily every day when they show up to work.

The White House has still not adequately explained why Trump went to a donor event in New Jersey on Thursday after learning that one of his closest aides contracted the virus. 

Even some top West Wing aides were left in the dark about the chain of events that started with Hope Hicks feeling symptoms and isolating on Air Force One on Wednesday, and culminated with the president's 1 a.m. tweet that he had tested positive.

  • "There have been plenty of rumors, but a complete lack of information from the top," a senior administration official said.
  • "No one can trust what they're hearing, because even what is being said publicly doesn't seem to add up."

Pressed on the timeline that led up to a Trump trip to New Jersey for fundraisers on Thursday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — not wearing a mask — told reporters in the White House driveway:

  • "I'm not going to get into the ticktock," Meadows said. "I can tell you, in terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as the Marine One was taking off yesterday."
  • "We actually pulled some of the people that had been traveling and in close contact. ... [W]e had already started the contact tracing."

Asked when President Trump knew about Hicks' diagnosis, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News' Harris Faulkner: "I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not going to get into an exact timeline."

  • As to the decision-making after Hicks quarantined on the plane on Wednesday night, McEnany said: "[I]mmediately when she got a positive result ...  there was contact tracing that was put into place."

Officials tell Axios that when McEnany briefed reporters from the podium on Thursday, she was unaware that Hicks had the coronavirus.

A White House official tells Axios that only a small circle of officials were informed of Hicks' diagnosis immediately: "[I]t has been our practice throughout this when it comes to the personal health information of staffers, non principals, we don't share or confirm those details."

  • That circle didn't include several of the administration officials who traveled with the president on Wednesday or Thursday — a decision that frustrated many in the White House.

Go deeper... Axios Re:Cap on the questions raised by Trump's positive test

Go deeper

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.
Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
22 hours ago - Health

Many U.S. coronavirus deaths were avoidable

Data: National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

If the U.S. death rate had matched that of other wealthy countries, between about 55,000 and 215,000 Americans would still be alive, according to a scathing new analysis by Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Why it matters: These countries have taken a significantly different approach to the virus than the U.S., providing yet another example that things didn't have to be this way.

The pandemic is getting worse again

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Due to a database error, Missouri had a 3 day gap in reporting from Oct. 11-13; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Every available piece of data proves it: The coronavirus pandemic is getting worse again, all across America.

The big picture: As the death toll ticks past 212,000, at a moment when containing the virus ought to be easier and more urgent than ever, we are instead giving it a bigger foothold to grow from.