Trump tests negative for coronavirus, says he underwent screening 'only because the press is going crazy'

Trump tests negative for coronavirus, says he underwent screening 'only because the press is going crazy'
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

US President Donald Trump has tested negative for the novel coronavirus, said his physician in a statement released by the White House. After days of resisting screening for the coronavirus, Trump decided to take the test on March 13.

“I release the following with the permission of President Trump. Last night (Friday) after an in-depth discussion regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed. This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative,” said Dr Sean Conley, Trump’s doctor, in a statement released by White House.

Trump had previously been in contact with people who later tested positive for coronavirus following a Mar-a-Lago dinner party.

The statement read, “One week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation in Mar-a-Lago, the president remains symptom-free. I have been in daily contact with the CDC and the White House coronavirus task force, and we are encouraging the implementation of all their best practices for exposure reduction and transmission mitigation.”

Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at NYU Langone in New York told the New York Times that the test results should be made public. “It is the height of irresponsible leadership to continue to risk catching or spreading Covid-19 or other infectious diseases,” he said.

The announcement from the White House comes a day after Conley said Trump remains without symptoms and testing was not needed.

Trump decided to take the test after journalists asked him questions repeatedly as to why he was not undergoing screening despite being exposed to people who have since tested positive for the virus. He told reporters during a briefing on March 14 that he decided to take the test “only because the press is going crazy.”

“By the way, I had my temperature taken coming into the room....I also took the test last night...Yeah.  And I decided I should, based on the press conference yesterday.  People were asking that I take the test,” he said during the March 14 briefing

President Donald Trump shakes hands before a dinner with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Last weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump hosted a party which was attended by President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. The lattr’s entourage included his chief communications officer, Fabio Wajngarten.

“The president stood shoulder to shoulder with Wajngarten, who leaned toward Trump for a photo. A few days later, Wajngarten, who developed flu-like symptoms once home in Brazil, tested positive for the coronavirus. Two other people who attended gatherings with the Brazilian officials on the trip have since learned they are infected: Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, who was tested even though he has no symptoms; and Brazil’s chargé d’affaires in Washington, Ambassador Nestor Forster Jr., who discovered he was infected on Friday evening,” reports the New York Times.

The White House did not specify in the statement whether Trump will be retested. 

Meanwhile, despite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizing on social distancing to check community spread, Trump shook the hands of multiple officials at his Rose Garden news conference. He has also continued to appear at large gatherings. 

When a journalist asked as to why he was shaking hands Trump replied, “Because it almost becomes a habit, and you get out of that habit. And, frankly, I was a non-hand-shaker, for the most part. I’ve never believed that shaking hands — once you become a politician. And I notice it too: Political people walk up to me, they want to shake my hand. I said, 'Well, you know'.”

Trump added, “Shaking hands is not a great thing to be doing right now, I agree. But people put their hand out. Sometimes I’ll put the hand out. You don’t think about it. People are thinking about it more and more. We have to think about it; it’s important.”

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