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US: Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, White House physician says

Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, White House physician says President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, the Wh...

Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, White House physician says

President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, the White House physician said Saturday evening after the president held a press briefing on the administration's latest moves to combat the outbreak.

The president consented to a test Friday night, Navy Cdr. Sean Conley said in a statement, and he remains symptom-free one week after dining with a Brazilian government delegation, some of whose members have tested positive for the illness, at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The statement did not say if Trump will be re-tested.

Trump said that he has been tested for coronavirus after being questioned about it during a Rose Garden address on Friday.

“I also took the test last night," Trump said during the White House briefing. "And I decided I should, based on the press conference yesterday. People were asking, 'Did I take the test?'"

Asked when test results would be returned, he said: "A day, two days. They send it to a lab."

Trump also touted the bipartisan congressional funding package passed early Saturday and the rise in the stock markets following his Rose Garden address.

"I was honored to see that the stock market, you were mostly there with us, set a record in a short period of time, over 45-minute period that we had the press conference yesterday in the rose garden," Trump said. "That was a record. All-time record. I think we should do one of them every day perhaps. How about five times a day? We'll do one five times a day."

He also announced that the White House is expanding its travel ban to passengers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, also hinting that relief for the airline and cruise industry would be coming soon.

The president was joined at the press event by Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Housing Secretary Ben Carson and health officials, including Seema Verma, Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, who have been leading the administration's response to the outbreak. Not present was Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, whose standing has been diminished in the wake of the outbreak.

"Secretary Azar was at the coronavirus task force meeting this morning. He's back to work, and we will have a changing round-up of these presentations so we can get quickly to your questions," Pence said in response to a question about the absence of the administration's top health official. "But secretary Azar is doing a remarkable job, and working seven days a week for the American people and making a difference."

The vice president, pressed on the messaging discrepancies from the White House around whether Trump needed to get tested, told reporters he’d consult with the White House physician on getting a diagnostic himself after today’s briefing.

“Mrs. Pence and I will be more than happy to get tested,” he said, after stating that the physician on Friday night had said Pence and his wife didn’t have the “symptoms or contacts that would necessitate testing.”

He also said he’d had his temperature checked earlier.

White House staff barred at least one person from the press briefing room after checking the temperatures of journalists who gathered for the event

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel experienced a fever and flu-like conditions Friday evening and went to a Michigan hospital for treatment, according to the RNC. She is self-quarantining at home with her family.

The president has been criticized for repeatedly shaking hands in public and on camera despite the advice of public health officials to refrain from the practice.

At the press briefing, he defended his actions but also said that "getting away from shaking hands is a good thing."

Late Friday, press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a memo from Conley saying Trump had dined at Mar-a-Lago with a person who has since tested positive for coronavirus. Conley did not recommend testing the president as a necessity.

Conley on Saturday said he had been in touch with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Coronavirus Task Force and that his office is “encouraging the implementation of all their best practices.”

Earlier Saturday, Trump hailed the bipartisan deal on a congressional coronavirus funding package on Twitter, adding that he'd attended a series of coronavirus-related meetings in the White House that morning.

He also tweeted: "SOCIAL DISTANCING!"

As of Saturday, the U.S. had reached 50 reported coronavirus-related deaths and over 2,200 confirmed cases.

Despite Trump’s announcement that’s he’s been tested, health officials at Saturday’s press conference urged Americans to begin isolating themselves instead of rushing to get tested if they’re not experiencing symptoms.

Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator said said Quest and LabCorp — two private labs currently running diagnostics — are reporting 98 percent to 99 percent of their tests are coming back negative for coronavirus.

Though early missteps have prevented widespread testing necessary to track the spread of the virus and isolate sick individuals, Birx and other administration health officials said they were optimistic about the steps the administration is taking to ramp up testing.

The administration on Friday announced steps that would allow some labs that have been processing tens or hundreds of samples a day to instead handle thousands. The U.S. tested about 11,000 people during the first seven weeks of the outbreak — roughly as many as South Korea can test in a day.

Pence said the administration would release more details at a briefing Sunday evening on progress in the effort to expand testing.

Health officials Saturday said they were optimistic that the new measures will allow the U.S. to begin understanding how the disease is spreading. “Now it's all systems go,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “As we get knowledge about new testing, we'll alleviate the anxiety that we have in the world about, we don't know what's going on.”

“Now it's all systems go,” Fauci said. “Let's look forward.”

Alex Isenstadt contributed to this report


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