The US presidential campaign, as well as the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, were thrown into chaos after President Donald Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus and hospitalised. First Lady Melania Trump also tested positive but is recuperating at the White House.
Several others who attended the White House ceremony at which the president announced his nomination of Judge Barrett to the US Supreme Court, including two US Senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Tom Tillis of North Carolina, tested positive for the virus. Video of the event showed that most of the attendees were not wearing masks and there were no social distancing measures in place.
Fr John Jenkins, CSC, President of the University of Notre Dame, also announced he had tested positive after attending the event. Judge Barrett was a long-time professor of law at Notre Dame. Eighteen faculty of the school who attended the event were awaiting test results as well, and concerns were raised that they had violated university anti-Covid policies. Fr Jenkins issued an apology for his “error in judgment” but the apology did not forestall a petition drive calling for his resignation.
Despite the fact that three Republican senators – Senator Ron Johnson, who did not attend the ceremony for Barrett is the third – have tested positive for the coronavirus and must self-quarantine, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham, announced he was planning to continue with plans to begin hearings on Judge Barrett’s nomination next week. The Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the upper chamber, and two Republican senators have already indicated they do not support voting on a nomination until after the election. That means all three senators who tested positive will need to be in attendance when the vote is taken.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the US bishops’ conference, issued a statement calling for prayers for all those afflicted with the coronavirus. “I am praying for President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. May God grant them full healing and may He keep their family safe and healthy,” Gomez said. “Let us keep praying for all who are suffering because of the novel coronavirus, especially the sick and dying and their families, and all those who have lost loved ones. May God give them hope and comfort, and may He bring an end to this pandemic.”