Thirteen workers of a Minneapolis steakhouse are in quarantine after catering a fundraiser attended by President Donald Trump during his visit to Minnesota last week, the restaurant said Monday.
The hospitality workers are employed by Murray’s Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, which catered the fundraiser last Wednesday at the Lake Minnetonka home of Marty Davis, CEO of the quartz countertop manufacturer Cambria Co. LLC.
Around 40 contributors paid $200,000 a couple or $100,000 per person for the chance to meet the president and hear him speak.
The event came just two days before the president would reveal he was positive for COVID-19 early Friday. He was airlifted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Marine One later the same day after having difficulties breathing.
‘Our staff was there to work the party only and at no point did any staff come in close proximity to the president,’ the restaurant said in a statement. ‘Upon learning of the president´s positive COVID-19 test, we immediately enacted a 14-day quarantine for all staff who worked the party. Additionally, each staff member who worked the party will be tested for COVID-19.’
Murray’s, a family owned restaurant since 1946, is famous as ‘Home of the Silver Butter Knife Steak.’ It is popular among the city’s celebrities, business executives and sports stars.
Murray’s catered a fundraiser last Wednesday at the Lake Minnetonka home of Marty Davis (left), CEO of the quartz countertop manufacturer Cambria Co. LLC, which was attended by Trump two days before he revealed his positive COVID diagnosis
Murray’s, a family owned restaurant since 1946, is famous as ‘Home of the Silver Butter Knife Steak.’ It’s popular among the city’s celebrities, business executives and sports stars.
A spokesman for the restaurant, Chuck Sanger, said the restaurant is still able to operate normally despite the quarantine order.
Davis has not returned multiple messages from The Associated Press since the White House announced on Friday that the president had contracted COVID-19.
One guest at the Davis home in Shorewood, St. Paul philanthropist Helene Houle, said in an interview Monday that nobody got closer than six feet to the president.
Houle said all the guests had to wait in their cars to get tested before the event and they weren’t allowed to go in until everybody tested negative.
‘We got to have our photos taken with President Trump but we weren’t next to him, we were 6 to 8 feet away from him,’ she said.
Then they took their assigned seats in the dining room, at some distance from the podium where Trump spoke. The tables were spread out, though the seating at each table was normally spaced, she said.
Nobody was worried about contracting coronavirus because they had all just tested negative, Houle said.
‘He spoke for a good hour,’ Houle detailed. ‘We could ask him any question we wanted. It was really a thrill to be in the presence of the president for me,’ she continued, adding that dinner wasn’t served until Trump had left for his rally that night in Duluth.
‘Everything was pretty top shelf. It was lovely. The food was good,’ she said.
President Donald Trump throws hats to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport on September 30
The crowd cheers as Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump at Duluth International Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, for Trump’s campaign appearance in Duluth, Minn. (AP Photo/Jack Rendulich)
Also Monday, two more prominent Minnesota Republican politicians who came close to Trump during his visit said they had tested negative.
Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis both issued statements saying they received their negative test results back Monday. Both were part of the committee that greeted Trump as he got off Air Force One in Minneapolis.
Also with them was House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who announced Saturday that he had tested negative. They’ve all said that they did not shake hands with the president and remained several feet away from him during the encounter, which lasted under five minutes.
Gazelka, the state’s top GOP elected official, said he’s following his doctor’s advice and continuing to limit his activities. He said he would get tested again later this week to confirm the results. But Lewis, a former congressman who’s challenging Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, said he will return to the campaign trail.
Three GOP congressmen who flew with Trump on Air Force One to his rally in Duluth and back to Washington – Reps. Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn – reported Friday that they had tested negative. Lewis joined them for the flight to Duluth.
The three congressmen have come under Democratic criticism for taking a regular Delta Air Lines flight home to Minnesota on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Trump’s White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, three days after Trump confirmed he was infected.
The 32-year-old continued to work at the White House despite Trump testing positive late Thursday, even taking her mask off to brief reporters about the president’s condition on Sunday.
She had been in close contact with the President and others at White House who have tested positive, but repeatedly tested negatively herself until Monday.
Her assistant, Chad Gilmartin has also tested positive.
Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (left) and U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis (seen near right greeting Mike Pence) both issued statements saying they got their test results back Monday and were negative. Both were part of the committee that greeted Trump as he got off Air Force One in Minneapolis
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has become the latest person in the President’s inner circle to test positive for COVID-19. She is shown on Sunday at the White House
‘After testing negatively consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms,’ McEnany said in a statement posted to Twitter.
‘As an essential worker, I have worked diligently to provide needed information to the American people at this time.
‘With my recent positive test, I will begin the quarantine process and continue working on behalf of the American people,’ she noted.
The White House staff are tested every day with rapid testing kits and have been relying on those results to let people back into the building since Trump’s diagnosis last week, even though it is commonly known that it can take several days after someone becomes exposed for their viral load to be substantial enough to yield a positive result.
First Lady Melania Trump, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepiens, two senators – Mike Lee from Utah and Thom Tillis from North Carolina – plus the president of Notre Dame university, John Jenkins, have also all tested positive for COVID-19.
The outbreak is believed to have been caused by the ‘superspreader’ nomination event for Trump’s Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barret, which was held in White House Rose Garden on September 26. In total, 15 of those who attended have so far tested positive.
Trump made a dramatic return to the White House on Monday night after four days in Walter Reed Medical Center battling COVID, exiting Marine One to walk up the steps of the South Portico where he removed his face mask.
But the president’s breathing appeared to be labored after the climb of a couple of dozen stairs, when he stood at the top to wave at the cameras. He seemed to grimace as he struggled to breath, with one doctor saying he was ‘clearly in some distress with his breathing’.
Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s personal physician, said Monday the president was not ‘out of the woods’ but would get the care he needed at the White House.