White House says Trump and Pence don't need coronavirus testing
The White House insists President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “do not require” and do not meet the federal guidelines for coronavirus testing, despite close proximity to the Brazilian president’s press secretary who tested positive for coronavirus. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is now also being tested for the virus, after spending Saturday evening at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Mr. Trump told reporters Thursday he “isn’t concerned.” Brazilian media reported Thursday that the Brazilian president’s press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for the virus, only a few days after Mr. Trump was photographed with Bolsonaro and Wajngarten at his Florida resort, where Mr. Trump hosted the Brazilian president for dinner. An Instagram picture posted by Wajngarten showed him, Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence together at Mar-a-Lago. Mr. Trump and Bolsonaro have a strong relationship, one the president has tried to bolster.
“The White House is aware of public reports that a member of the Brazilian delegation’s visit to Mar-a-Lago last weekend tested positive for COVID-19; confirmatory testing is pending,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “Exposures from the case are being assessed, which will dictate next steps. Both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.”
“As stated before, the White House Medical Unit and the United States Secret Service has been working closely with various agencies to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the First & Second Families, and all White House staff healthy,” the statement continues. “To reiterate CDC guidelines, there is currently no indication to test patients without symptoms, and only people with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine. We are monitoring the situation closely and will update everyone as we get more information.”
Meanwhile, Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham, who doesn’t recall any direct contact with Bolsonaro or his aide but was at Mar-a-Lago the same weekend, is self-quarantining for the time being out of an abundance of caution and upon the advice of his doctor, according to his office.
The president has also been attempting to instill confidence in the public about his administration’s response to the virus, even as health facilities still lack the number of tests they need to broadly test for the virus. Mr. Trump’s prime-time address to the nation in the Oval Office did not calm markets. Stocks plunged 7% after the opening bell Thursday, so much so that trading was halted for 15 minutes.
The president’s campaign is also calling off some future events, as have the campaigns for former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
“We need a little separation until such time as this goes away. It’s gonna go away, it’s gonna go away. I was watching Scott, I was watching Scott this morning, and he was saying within two months,” Mr. Trump told reporters Thursday, likely referring to former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “But in the meantime, we want to lose as few people as possible, so important.”