White House: Anyone ‘in close proximity’ to Trump or Pence will be tested for coronavirus

Any person “in close proximity” to President Trump or Vice President Pence will be tested for the novel coronavirus starting Friday, the White House said.

“As the Physician to the President and White House Operations continue to protect the health and safety of the President and Vice President, starting today anyone who is expected to be in close proximity to either of them will be administered a COVID-19 test to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere said Friday.

The individuals will receive the same rapid test that Trump referenced during a press briefing on Thursday.

The new measure marks an increased effort by the White House to prevent Trump and Pence from coming in contact with individuals who may be infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, particularly those who have contracted the virus but are not immediately showing symptoms.

Trump told reporters at a press briefing later Friday that a group of oil executives he met with earlier in the day were tested for the virus before the meeting. Trump also indicated he had been unaware of the new policy.  

“I didn’t know they were doing that,” the president told reporters in the White House briefing room. “This took 13 to 15 minutes, and they were all fine.” 

The White House has already instituted temperature checks for reporters entering the complex and doctors have also taken the temperature of reporters before the daily coronavirus task force briefings begin. Trump has limited his travel, forgoing campaign and fundraising events as the virus has spread across the country.

Trump has twice tested negative for the coronavirus, announcing his second set of results on Thursday. Trump said he took the rapid point-of-care test, which yielded results in about 15 minutes, out of “curiosity” to see how quickly it worked.

Trump also tested negative last month after coming in contact with two people at his Mar-a-Lago beach club who had since tested positive for the disease.

The White House physician said at the time that the president didn’t need to be tested because he had limited contact with the individuals and showed no symptoms, but Trump said he chose to take the test because the press was “going crazy” asking him questions about why he hadn’t.

There has only been one known case of coronavirus at the White House; a member of Pence’s staff tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20. Pence and second lady Karen Pence both subsequently tested negative for the virus. 

—Updated at 6:18 p.m. 

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump Karen Pence Mike Pence the white house
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