Last Thursday, October 8, President Donald J. Trump told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business that part of the reason he contracted COVID-19 was from an event with Gold Star Families at the White House.
“Sometimes I’d be in groups, for instance Gold Star Families. I met with Gold Star Families—I didn’t want to cancel that,” the president said.
President Trump explained that during the event on Sunday, September 27, the families came up to him and told him stories of the sons and daughters whom they lost in wars.
“I can’t say back up, stand 10 feet—ya know, I just can’t do it,” President Trump said. “They come within an inch of my face sometimes, and they want to hug me, they want to kiss me and they do, and frankly I’m not telling them to back up—I’m not doing it.”
Steven G. Xiarhos of Marstons Mills, the Republican nominee for the 5th Barnstable District state representative seat, was a speaker and attendee at the Gold Star Family event.
Mr. Xiarhos was not wearing a mask when he shook President Trump’s hand that Sunday.
“Everybody there had passed a COVID test prior,” Mr. Xiarhos said.
When asked about President Trump’s comment about Gold Star Families, Mr. Xiarhos said he tries to focus on the beauty of that night.
“I think what the president was trying to say and what I observed was—it was a very emotional night, so there were people crying and hugging,” Mr. Xiarhos said. “It’s a very emotional night when you’re speaking about the worst day of your life, with other Americans who all have the same experience and you share that together in the people’s house.”
Mr. Xiarhos attended the event at the White House with his twin daughters, Ashlynne and Elizabeth Xiarhos.
He spoke about the loss of his son, US Marine Corporal Nicholas G. Xiarhos, who was killed at age 21 during combat in Afghanistan in 2009.
“It’s really about honoring the sons and daughters of our nation,” he said. “And that’s it. It’s not about the president.”
Mr. Xiarhos said when he is invited, he will always attend Gold Star Family events, no matter who the president is.
“It’s really about what a Gold Star Family is like, and that’s what we should all try to remember,” he said.
The president announced his and first lady Melania Trump’s positive COVID-19 tests via Twitter on October 2, five days after the Gold Star Family event.
After hearing of President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Mr. Xiarhos was in quarantine until Sunday, October 11, two weeks after the event.
“I took four COVID tests in two weeks, all negative. I stayed home, and the quarantine guideline actually gave me a chance to get caught up,” he said.
His daughters, who live in New Hampshire, also quarantined and took multiple COVID-19 tests with negative results.
Mr. Xiarhos said he is happy his quarantine is over.
“I love campaigning because you get to talk to people,” he said. “And obviously I’m always careful. I’m following the guidelines, wearing a mask, socially distancing, washing my hands. I’m living every parent’s nightmare, and I think we need to focus on what a Gold Star Family is and nothing else.”