Notre Dame President Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Attending SCOTUS Nomination Ceremony

Notre Dame President Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Attending SCOTUS Nomination Ceremony
File photo of campus of University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, who was at a White House event last Saturday, has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to student newspaper The Observer, Jenkins has been self-quarantining since his trip to Washington for the Rose Garden nomination ceremony for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett. A Notre Dame Law School alumna, professor, and member of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett is set to fill the vacancy left by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Paul Browne, Notre Dame's vice president for public affairs and communications, said in a Friday email that Jenkins took the test after one of his close colleagues contracted the CCP virus. As the test returned a positive result, Jenkins has to extend his isolation period.

"My symptoms are mild and I will continue work from home," Jenkins said in the email, reported The Observer. "The positive test is a good reminder for me and perhaps for all of how vigilant we need to be."

The White House confirmed on Friday that Amy Coney Barrett has tested negative for COVID-19.

"Judge Barrett is tested daily for COVID-19—she has tested negative," White House spokesman Judd Deere said on Friday. "She is following CDC guidance and best practices, including social distancing, wearing face coverings, and frequently washes hands."

Jenkins, who has been heading Notre Dame since 2005, has drawn criticism from the campus community for imposing strict safety protocols amid the CCP virus pandemic but in multiple occasions, apparently breaking them. Many students and staff complained about Jenkins' behavior over the recent weeks, with some even reporting him via the university's online reporting system for pandemic-related incidents.
Jenkins most recently came under fire for a video showing him in the Rose Garden not wearing a mask and shaking hands with a number of people—practices that are banned on Notre Dame campus. Jenkins then apologized to students and staff, saying that he had a rapid COVID-19 test once he arrived at the White House and that it came back negative.

"I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden," he wrote in a Monday email to the campus community. "I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so. I especially regret my mistake in light of the sacrifices made on a daily basis by many, particularly our students, in adjusting their lives to observe our health protocols."