Trump tests neg­a­tive for virus

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jill Colvin and Aamer Madhani

WASHINGTON >> Af­ter days of re­sist­ing screen­ing for the coro­n­avirus, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tested neg­a­tive for the virus, of­fi­cials said Satur­day night. Mean­while, the White House be­gan check­ing the tem­per­a­ture of any­one com­ing into close con­tact with the pres­i­dent and other of­fi­cials.

Prior to his test­ing, Trump said his per­sonal physi­cian told him he didn’t show symp­toms and didn’t need to take the test. But Trump de­cided to do it any­way af­ter re­peated ques­tions from re­porters about why he was hes­i­tat­ing to un­dergo screen­ing when he had been ex­posed to at least three peo­ple who have tested pos­i­tive for the virus.

The White House re­leased the test re­sults just hours af­ter Trump told re­porters that he had been tested and that his tem­per­a­ture was “to­tally normal.” He was re­cently in con­tact with three peo­ple at his Florida re­sort who have tested pos­i­tive for the virus, in­clud­ing two aides to Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro.

“One week af­ter hav­ing din­ner with the Brazil­ian del­e­ga­tion in Mar-a-Lago, the Pres­i­dent re

mains symp­tom-free,” Sean Con­ley, the pres­i­dent’s physi­cian, said in a memo.

Mul­ti­ple law­mak­ers and count­less cit­i­zens across the coun­try who have had the same de­gree of ex­po­sure have not only tried to get tested, but also cho­sen to quar­an­tine them­selves as a pre­cau­tion and to avoid po­ten­tially in­fect­ing oth­ers.

The pan­demic has now in­fected more than 2,200 peo­ple in the U.S. and caused at least 50 deaths.

The pres­i­dent, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple close to the White House, had been re­luc­tant to take the test for fear it would pro­ject weak­ness or worry. Trump wanted to ap­pear in full con­trol dur­ing the cri­sis, and had ex­pressed con­cerns that tak­ing per­sonal steps

could un­der­mine that ap­pear­ance.

But as the White House grap­pled with re­peated ex­po­sures by Trump and mul­ti­ple se­nior aides, it tight­ened pre­cau­tions. On Satur­day, the White House an­nounced that it was con­duct­ing tem­per­a­ture checks on any­one who was in close con­tact with Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, in­clud­ing re­porters who at­tended the White House brief­ing Satur­day and any­one en­ter­ing the Oval Of­fice.

To that end, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the White House physi­cian’s of­fice took the tem­per­a­ture of mem­bers of the me­dia at the brief­ing, go­ing around and put­ting a de­vice to their heads. One re­porter with a sus­pected el­e­vated tem­per­a­ture was not al­lowed in.

Pence wrote a memo to White House staff Satur­day re­mind­ing them to take pre­cau­tions such as avoid­ing

phys­i­cal con­tact, wash­ing hands fre­quently and stay­ing home when sick to help the ad­min­is­tra­tion keep the virus at bay.

“It’s im­per­a­tive each one of us do our part to take the proper pre­cau­tions to keep our­selves and our col­leagues safe,” Pence wrote. “As an em­ployee aboard the White House Com­plex, we have an ad­di­tional duty to pro­tect the health of our Ex­ec­u­tive Branch and those work­ing with us.”

Trump, 73, is con­sid­ered to be at higher risk of com­pli­ca­tions from the dis­ease be­cause of his age. He has long tried to min­i­mize the threat posed by the virus and con­tin­ued to en­gage in be­hav­iors that health of­fi­cials are warn­ing the pub­lic against.

On Friday, Trump shook the hands of mul­ti­ple of­fi­cials at his Rose Gar­den news con­fer­ence and he has con­tin­ued to ap­pear at large

gath­er­ings de­spite tweet­ing Satur­day morn­ing that Amer­i­cans should be prac­tic­ing “SO­CIAL DIS­TANC­ING!”

“It al­most be­comes a habit,” Trump said when asked why he con­tin­ues to shake hands con­trary to Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion guide­lines.

“Peo­ple come up to me, they shake hands, they put their hand out, it’s sort of a natural re­flex,” he said. “We’re all get­ting out of it. All of us have that prob­lem.” He added: “Shak­ing hands is not a great thing to be do­ing right now, I agree.”

The Brazil­ian Em­bassy in Washington said late Friday that the coun­try’s chargé d’af­faires, Nestor Forster, tested pos­i­tive af­ter sit­ting at Trump’s din­ner ta­ble. So, too, did a top aide to Bol­sonaro, who took a photo with Trump and at­tended a party with him, and an­other per­son who at­tended a cam­paign fundraiser with the pres­i­dent that Sunday, ac­cord­ing to two Repub­li­can of­fi­cials who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity in or­der to dis­cuss pri­vate health matters.

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