Coronavirus pandemic: Brazilian official who met Trump has the virus, but POTUS won't get tested

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director Fábio Wajngarten tested positive just days after a meeting with Trump in Florida

                            Coronavirus pandemic: Brazilian official who met Trump has the virus, but POTUS won't get tested
(AP Photo)

WASHINGTON: A senior Brazilian official who attended weekend events with President Donald Trump in Florida has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first time that someone known to have the virus was in close proximity to the president.

Trump does not plan to be tested or go into self-quarantine, the White House said.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, tested positive just days after traveling with his president to a meeting with Trump and senior aides in Florida. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Thursday that “exposures from the case are being assessed, which will dictate next steps.”

“Both the President and Vice President had almost no interaction with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time", Grisham said.

Wajngarten joined Bolsonaro on a three-day trip to the US and on Saturday was at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, where he posted a photo of himself posing beside Trump. A video from the event also showed him standing directly behind both presidents as they addressed a crowd. Bolsonaro and Wajngarten later attended a birthday party for Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating the president's son Donald Trump Jr.

While Trump was not taking any apparent action in response, two Republican lawmakers announced they will self-quarantine for two weeks after coming in contact with Bolsonaro's delegation. Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who met Bolsonaro in Miami, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, announced on Thursday that they will isolate themselves. Graham's office said he had been tested for the coronavirus and was awaiting the result.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, demurred when asked whether the President should be in self-isolation. Fauci has been the face of the administration's response to the public health emergency

“Questions like that I leave up to the physicians in charge of the President's health," he said.

The Mar-a-Lago meeting also included Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Brazil’s foreign minister Ernesto Araujo and Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, who is a federal lawmaker, among others. Vice President Mike Pence went to Mar-a-Lago that evening.

“We had dinner in Florida at Mar-a-Lago with the entire delegation," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday. “I don’t know if the press aide was there. But we did nothing very unusual."

US Southern Command, which Bolsonaro visited on Sunday, said it has no cases of the virus. Southcom, which is in charge of US forces in the southern hemisphere, is based in Miami and is led by Adm. Craig Faller. The statement issued on Thursday said Faller has not experienced any symptoms of the virus and has not been tested.

The confirmed exposure comes after Trump was in repeated contact with people who themselves had contact with people who tested positive for the virus. Trump's newly named chief of staff, Mark Meadows, emerged from self-quarantine on Thursday. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida traveled back to Washington with Trump on Air Force One on Monday but isolated himself on the flight after being informed that he had been in contact with a person who later was confirmed to have had the virus.

President Donald Trump speaks before a dinner with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Palm Beach 
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

It was not immediately clear what precautions the White House was taking to protect Trump from the virus. Trump on Wednesday canceled his political travel for the coming weeks, but he has disregarded the advice of medical and public health professionals to stop shaking hands.

Grisham said in a statement that “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.”

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