"I feel extremely good," the president told reporters on Tuesday

By Sean Neumann
March 12, 2020 05:06 PM
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President Donald Trump‘s administration is leading the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

After contact with a coronavirus patient or others who were exposed, however, Trump’s own health is in the spotlight.

On Thursday morning, a Brazilian official who visited the president last week and took a photo with him on Saturday reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus, though it’s unclear when the official contracted the virus.

Late last month, Trump was in proximity to several people who had been around a coronavirus patient at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

The White House maintains that Trump does not need to be tested; and he has said he feels fine. (Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said Thursday he was in self-isolation with his wife as she was tested for coronavirus after experiencing flu-like symptoms.)

As of Thursday afternoon, about 1,420 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the U.S. and 38 reported people had died, most of them in Washington state, which is one of the epicenters of the outbreak in America.

Worldwide, more than 4,710 deaths have been reported and about 128,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.

Here’s everything President Trump and the White House have said about his health and his preparedness amid coronavirus concerns.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump
| Credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty

Trump ‘Isn’t Concerned’ About Coronavirus Contact

Trump told reporters Thursday morning at the White House that he “isn’t concerned” about having been in close contact with Fabio Wajngarten, the communications director for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who interacted with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, over the weekend.

The White House said later that same day that both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “had almost no interactions” with Wajngarten.

In the photo Wajngarten posted of himself and Trump on Saturday, they are standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

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

‘I Feel Extremely Good’

“I feel extremely good,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday.

Last last month, he shook hands with Matt Schlapp, the chairman of CPAC, while at the conference. Schlapp and a number of Republican lawmakers were exposed to a person there who later tested positive for coronavirus.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Reps. Mark Meadows, Matt Gaetz and Doug Collins all self-quarantined themselves following the conference, in a precautionary move.

Meadows was recently named Trump’s new White House chief of staff. (He tested negative for the virus.)

First and Second Families are Being Monitored

Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement Thursday afternoon that the Trump and Pence families are being monitored for symptoms of coronavirus.

“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,” Grisham said, adding that the White House was “monitoring the situation closely and will update everyone as we get more information.”

Trump Says His Doctor Advised Him Not to Get Tested

Trump told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that his White House doctor advised him not to get tested for the coronavirus after shaking hands with Schlapp at the CPAC conference, even given the link to the coronavirus patient.

“I guess it’s not a big deal to get tested and something I would do — but, again, I spoke to the White House doctor, terrific guy, talented guy. He said he sees no reason to do it,” Trump said Tuesday. “There’s no symptoms, no anything.”

The coronavirus’ incubation period — the period of time in which an infected person will begin to show symptoms — is believed to be up to 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a statement on Monday, Trump’s press secretary said he “remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him.”

Grisham also recently announced that the billionaire president had donated his most recent quarterly paycheck of $100,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services to support the federal government’s response to the virus.

The White House Is ‘Conducting Business as Usual’

Grisham said Monday in a statement that reports about White House staff limiting in-person interactions and meetings were “completely false.”

“While we have asked all Americans to exercise common-sense hygiene measures, we are conducting business as usual,” she said then.

On Wednesday night, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation, Trump announced a 30-day ban on most non-Americans traveling to the U.S. from much of Europe.

Congress last week also passed an $8.3 billion spending bill to allocate funds to coronavirus prevention and research.

The president has been under mounting scrutiny for his contradictory tone about the virus’ seriousness, including last month when he downplayed concerns about the spread as the CDC warned Americans to prepare for an outbreak.

“No matter how well we do … the Democrats talking point is that we are doing badly. If the virus disappeared tomorrow, they would say we did a really poor, and even incompetent, job. Not fair, but it is what it is,” Trump tweeted on Feb. 25.

“The spread in other countries has raised our level of concern and raised our level of expectation that we are going to have community spread here,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, told reporters last month. “We’re asking folks in every sector as well as people within their families to start planning for this, because as we’ve seen from the recent countries that have had community spread, when it’s hit in those countries it has moved quite rapidly so we want to make sure that the American public is prepared.”

To prevent the spread of the virus, the CDC 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.