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COVID-19 ensnares Trump housing secretary Ben Carson and aide challenging election loss

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The coronavirus has spread further among U.S. President Donald Trump’s top aides, infecting Housing Secretary Ben Carson and the man leading the Trump campaign’s legal challenges to his election loss, officials and sources said on Monday.

Carson, a 69-year-old retired neurosurgeon, and conservative political activist David Bossie, 55, renewed the focus on a Nov. 3 election night White House party and the administration’s cavalier attitude toward public health guidelines encouraging Americans to wear masks and maintain a safe social distance.

“Secretary Carson has tested positive for the coronavirus. He is in good spirits and feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery” Deputy Chief of Staff Coalter Baker at the Department of Housing and Urban Development said in an emailed statement.

Carson was not hospitalized.

A source familiar with the matter said that Bossie’s infection “takes him out of the decision process” of the election challenge effort, in part because he cannot physically be at campaign headquarters nor in the Oval Office.

A White House spokesman declined comment on health issues related to administration staff.

Trump himself tested positive and was hospitalized with COVID-19 in early October. A number of staff members, as well as Trump’s wife and son, also tested positive.

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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has frequently appeared at public events without wearing a mask, was diagnosed last week, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Friday, along with several other staffers.

Carson, Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Health Secretary Alex Azar and a number of other Trump cabinet officials and top aides were at the White House for the election night party on Tuesday.

Bossie, tapped on Friday to lead Trump’s efforts to challenge election results in several battleground states showing Democrat Joe Biden as narrowly winning, also attended the election night party, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. Bossie appeared at a Phoenix news conference on Thursday criticizing vote tabulations.

Bossie, who was Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016, is head of the conservative political group Citizens United. Mnuchin has continued to test negative, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Daphne Psaledakis, Andrea Shalal; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman