August 4, 2020 -- Rev. Perry Cleek, a pastor in northeastern Tennessee, tested positive for the coronavirus a week after visiting the White House in mid-July, according to WJHL.
Cleek attended a roundtable on U.S. law enforcement after his church drew national attention for making donations to police officers in his community.
The roundtable was on July 13, and he began having COVID-19 symptoms on July 21, according to the news station in Jonesborough, TN.
“It started with a really severe cough that lasted 2 or 3 days but it’s mostly gone,” Cleek told the station.
Cleek tested negative at the White House before attending the roundtable. He wasn’t close to President Donald Trump during the event, he added.
Once he developed the cough, he got tested at the local health department. Then he lost his sense of smell and taste. Cleek isn’t sure how he contracted the coronavirus but is worried about spreading it to others. He’s self-quarantining at home, and the church canceled in-person service.
“My biggest fear is that I’m going to get a phone call that I’ve passed it along to some of our precious elderly people or even someone in my own family,” Cleek told the station. “It is a serious illness … and it is very contagious.”
Officials have closely monitored cases that could be related to Trump and top White House staff. Last week, Robert O’Brien, the White House national security adviser, tested positive, according to Bloomberg News. He was on vacation with his family and began to experience mild symptoms after his college-age daughter became sick. Now he’s self-isolating and working from home.
“There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president,” White House officials said in a statement to the news service.