"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," the White House said

By Sean Neumann
March 12, 2020 02:41 PM
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A Brazilian official who recently visited with President Donald Trump and took a photo in close quarters with him last weekend has tested positive for coronavirus, according to multiple news outlets.

The test results for Fabio Wajngarten, communications director for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, were released Thursday, Brazilian newspaper Estadão and the Associated Press report.

Trump, 73, told reporters Thursday morning that he was “not concerned” about the development.

The Brazilian president, 64, and staff who accompanied him to Florida last weekend have been being monitored for signs of the virus since Wednesday, according to Estadão.

Wajngarten on posted a photo of himself standing next to Trump while visiting the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday. Wajngarten and Trump appear to be touching shoulders.

“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,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday.

While “exposures from the case are being assessed, which will dictate next steps,” Grisham said, “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.”

“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,” Grisham added. “We are monitoring the situation closely and will update everyone as we get more information.”

Trump previously came in contact with lawmakers who had interacted with a coronavirus patient at the Conservative Political Action Conference late last month.

Multiple GOP lawmakers placed themselves in self-quarantine after learning they interacted with someone at CPAC who tested positive for the virus. Those lawmakers included Rep. Mark Meadows, who is soon set to become Trump’s White House chief of staff. (Meadows has reportedly tested negative.)

Meadows sat next to Trump on Thursday morning as the president spoke to reporters and wondered aloud, “Are we supposed to shake hands? It’s a very strange feeling,” according to reporters at the White House.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic this week, reflecting how far it had spread.

As of Thursday morning, there have been 1,319 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 38 people have died, almost all of them in Washington state.

Worldwide, there have about 12,8000 confirmed cases. About 4,700 people have died.

Trump has faced mounting scrutiny for his response to the outbreak so far, sometimes taking a contradictory tone from his own health officials on the urgency of preparedness.

Coronavirus testing kits from the federal government have so far also lagged demand, critics say.

On Wednesday night, Trump announced a 30-day travel ban for non-American travelers coming from much of Europe, except the U.K. Italy has been one of the worst hit countries outside of China, where the virus originated in December.

Trump also canceled two upcoming re-election rallies Wednesday night that were planned for Colorado and Nevada, as health officials recommend that Americans use “social distancing” and avoid large crowds in order to slow the spread of the respiratory virus.

“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,” Grisham, the press secretary, said Thursday.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.