The White House on Tuesday said US President Donald Trump has not undergone testing for coronavirus despite being in close contact with lawmakers who are now self-quarantining, reported CNN.
“The President has not received COVID-19 testing because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients nor does he have any symptoms. President Trump remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
“Per current CDC guidelines, medical professionals should base testing decisions on patient symptoms and exposure history,” she added.
Alarm mounted further after at least two Republican lawmakers who recently met with the president announced they were going into self-quarantine, fearing that they were exposed to the virus at a conservative conference just outside Washington.
One of them, Representative Matt Gaetz, was travelling with Trump on Air Force One on Monday.
Another, Representative Doug Collins, was with Trump on Friday during a coronavirus briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters.
Coronavirus outbreak: Italy under lockdown as virus spreads across country The spreading virus also raises questions over whether Trump will be able to continue holding the large rallies at the heart of his reelection campaign.
Earlier, Vice President Mike Pence when asked Trump had been tested for the virus had said, “I really don’t know the answer to the question, but we’ll refer that question and we will get you an answer from the White House physician very quickly.
At least 26 people have died from the virus in US — 22 in Washington state, two in Florida and two in California. There are now 36 states with coronavirus cases, with the number of confirmed cases jumping to 717 per latest reports by CNN.
Grisham said there was no need for worry, denying reports that staff had been instructed to limit face-to-face meetings.
“While we have asked all Americans to exercise common-sense hygiene measures, we are conducting business as usual. I want to remind the media once again to be responsible with all reporting,” Grisham said.
Trump himself appeared to be less than strict about sanitary guidelines, shaking hands along a rope line of well-wishers while in Florida on Monday.
Since the worldwide COVID-19 epidemic began, Trump has veered between defending his government from accusations of incompetence to accusing Democrats and the media of exaggerating the crisis in an attempt to hurt his standing.
At least 27 dead in Iran after drinking alcohol said to ‘cure’ coronavirus The crisis has landed Trump in a rare situation of losing control over his messaging — a far cry from his usual aura of riding the booming economy to certain victory in November.
On Sunday, he retweeted a meme showing himself playing the violin and the caption: “My next piece is called nothing can stop what’s coming.”
Trump apparently meant the bizarre meme in jest and said himself he didn’t know “what this means.”
Critics quickly branded it the portrait of a modern Nero — the mad emperor famous for fiddling while Rome burned.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House press conference that there was no need for broader alarm, insisting that “the US has the most resilient economy in the world.”
“We couldn’t be more pleased that the president’s economic programs of tax cuts, regulatory relief and trade have put the economy in a very good position,” he said.
Incoming Trump chief of staff to self-quarantine
Separately, incoming White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has self-quarantined after he may have come into contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus, his spokesman said Monday.
Meadows is not exhibiting symptoms and a precautionary test came back negative, the spokesman said on Twitter.
“Mark Meadows was advised this weekend that now 12 days prior at CPAC, he may have come into contact with the COVID-19 positive test individual,” the tweet said, referring to a conservative conference in late February.
“He’ll be self-quarantined till the 14 day period passes Wednesday.” Meadows, currently a Republican congressman from North Carolina, will replace the ultra-conservative Mick Mulvaney, who had been serving as acting chief of staff since Trump fired John Kelly in December 2018.
Five other US elected officials have announced they are self-quarantining. Four of them were exposed to the virus, like Meadows, during the CPAC conference near Washington.—AFP