- Reverend Perry Cleek, the pastor who attended an event at the White House with President Trump and other officials on July 13, tested positive for COVID-19 a week after the meeting occurred.
- Rev. Cleek was attending a roundtable event focused on US law enforcement after his donations to police officers in his community drew media attention around the country.
- The pastor started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 on July 21, the website for CBS and ABC Tennessee affiliate WJHL-TV first reported.
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A pastor from northeastern Tennessee who met with President Donald Trump and other administration officials at the White House on July 13 started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and tested positive for the virus one week later.
Reverend Perry Cleek of the Lighthouse Missionary Baptist Church in Jonesborough, Tenn. attended the televised roundtable event attended by President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Attorney General William Barr to discuss law enforcement.
The White House invited Rev. Cleek to the event after his $1,000 donations to police officers in his community drew media attention around the country.
The pastor started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 on July 21, the website for CBS and ABC northeastern Tennessee affiliate station WJHL-TV first reported. Rev. Cleek said he was tested for the virus prior to attending the event, and said he tested negative at the time, according to WJHL-TV's report.
Rev. Cleek also said he was never "close" to President Trump while attending the event. A video of the event broadcast on C-SPAN shows he was sitting next to A.G. Barr. Nobody seated at the table — including Rev. Cleek, Trump, Pence, and Barr — wore a face mask, according to footage in the video.
The pastor told WJHL-TV that he never experienced a fever, only a cough, and a feeling of weakness, then lost his ability to taste and smell, a symptom associated with the virus.
Read more: If you've lost your sense of smell or taste, you could be a 'hidden carrier' of the coronavirus
It is not possible to know whether Rev. Cleek contracted the virus during the event.
Still, his experience comes as people in the Trump administration and close to government officials have tested positive for COVID-19 even as President Trump has tried to downplay the severity of the virus.
Robert O'Brien, the White House national security adviser, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, Bloomberg reported. In May, a member of the US Navy detailed to the White House who serves a personal valet to President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus.
The situation with Rev. Cleek also highlights the risks associated with not wearing face masks, which health officials say are critical for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. His church has canceled in-person services.
"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 WJHL-TV, adding it is a "serious illness."
He is self-quarantining at his home and is hoping to preach a sermon remotely, according to WJHL-TV's report.
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