Trump’s Friend He Says Has Coronavirus Is a New York Developer

For another time on Wednesday, President Trump somberly described a personal connection to the coronavirus as he discussed the effects of the pandemic at his daily briefing with his virus task force.

Sometimes he has referred to a friend who has the coronavirus and other times to friends. His aides have repeatedly declined to identify whom the president has been talking about.

But three people familiar with the matter said he was describing Stanley Chera, a New York City real-estate developer who has known the president for many years and had decamped to Deal, N.J., a few weeks ago as the coronavirus spread.

But it was unclear whom else Mr. Trump might have been referring to when he said he has other friends who are also ill.

Mr. Chera, 78, became sick at some point in Deal, and was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital, according to two of Mr. Chera’s friends. Two of those friends said Mr. Chera was in a medically induced coma.

But it is unclear whether he has tested positive for the coronavirus. One of the friends said his condition had been described as viral pneumonia.

Mr. Chera’s assistant did not respond to a message seeking comment. A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.

Mr. Trump described a friend being stricken by the “viciousness” of the coronavirus and falling into a coma in remarks on Sunday, the first time he mentioned someone he knew becoming sick with the virus. Then, on Monday, he said more than one friend had been affected.

“You see the numbers. You see the numbers like I see the numbers. I have some friends that are unbelievably sick,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden, leaving the impression that those friends had weighed on him as he made the decision to extend the guidelines for social distancing through April 30.

“We thought they were going in for a mild stay, and in one case, he’s unconscious, in a coma,” the president continued. “And you say, how did that happen?”

On Tuesday, the description was equally grim in the case of one friend whom he did not name but described.

“When you send a friend to the hospital, and you call up to find out how is he doing — it happened to me, where he goes to the hospital, he says goodbye,” Mr. Trump said.

“He’s sort of a tough guy. A little older, a little heavier than he’d like to be, frankly. And you call up the next day: ‘How’s he doing?’ And he’s in a coma? This is not the flu,” the president intoned.

Asked at Wednesday’s briefing if that friend’s illness had been a turning point in his understanding of the severity of the crisis, Mr. Trump replied: “Not a turning point. No, before that, I knew.”

But he added: “It hit him very hard. He is strong. A very strong kind of a guy. He is older. He is heavier. He sort of is central casting for what we’re talking about, and it hit him very hard.”

Mr. Trump has a history of mentioning the comments or experience of unnamed friends. And it has not been clear whether they all exist.

For instance, he has often talked about a friend named “Jim” who used to love visiting Paris, according to Mr. Trump, until it became a haven for extremists. The president has never said who “Jim” is, and aides have declined to give a last name.

But Mr. Chera is an old friend of Mr. Trump’s, as well as a donor to his re-election effort whom the president has acknowledged at fund-raising events in the past. Mr. Chera also partnered in the past with the company owned by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for retail space at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.