President Donald Trump said he has been tested for coronavirus, a precaution taken after he was in physical contact with people who have since tested positive for the virus.
During a Saturday press conference, Trump said he was tested on Friday after pressure from the media and public health experts. “I decided I should based on the press conference yesterday ― people were asking did I take the test,” the president said, adding he had his temperature taken and that it was normal.
Despite days of White House denials that he didn’t need to be tested because he wasn’t exposed for long periods of time — including in a memo from his physician — it seems either Trump or his medical team changed their mind.
It’s a good thing they did, too.
Last Saturday, Trump met with a top Brazilian official at Mar-a-Lago who has since tested positive for Covid-19. An image posted by the official, Fabio Wajngarten, quickly circulated on social media. It showed Trump standing right next to Wajngarten and holding a “Make Brazil Great Again” hat that the official had presumably handed him. Two Republican senators who separately met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro self-quarantined after the news.
In the last week, Trump has also had direct contact with two Republican members of Congress just before they self-quarantined due to their exposure to coronavirus. Those politicians, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), had been in contact with someone who tested positive during the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump also spoke at the event, but it’s unclear if he came into direct contact with the person who tested positive.
What’s more, Trump has been on the campaign trail where he’s been shaking hands and taking photos with supporters. Health professionals I spoke to earlier this week said that Trump, along with the leading Democratic presidential candidates, should stop doing that to minimize their risk of exposure to the virus.
“That’s really hard because that contact is fundamental for interacting with potential voters,” Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told me earlier this week.
On top of all of that, Trump is in his 70s — and, as the CDC has been saying for weeks now, older adults are “at higher risk of getting very sick” from Covid-19 than the general population is.
Put together, it makes sense that the White House tested the president, given Trump’s risk is definitely higher than others’. (Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence said they’d be willing to take the test.) The big question now is what the results of that test are.