All people who come into contact with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will have their temperatures taken by White House doctors, the Trump administration announced Saturday.
“Out of an abundance of caution, temperature checks are now being performed on any individuals who are in close contact with the president and vice president,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said.
Shortly before a Saturday press conference at which Trump announced that he has been tested for the novel coronavirus, members of the press — and members of the administration who shared a podium with the president — reportedly received temperature checks. And given Pence was also at the conference, Trump said he wasn’t excluded from the new procedure.
“I had my temperature taken coming into the room,” Trump said.
The president has repeatedly faced questions over his risk of exposure to the virus, and his critics have argued he has been overly cavalier about protecting himself.
He told reporters a week ago “I’m not concerned at all,” when asked whether he was worried about having been near those with the virus. And he has refused to stop shaking hands, as public health experts have recommended.
Although the president has been hesitant to adopt some recommendations, these new measures should help protect Trump to some degree — the World Health Organization has said about 88 percent of those with the coronavirus register a fever.
Trump and Pence are part of the demographic most at risk of coronavirus infection
At a Friday White House press conference, Trump received a number of questions about his risk of exposure following a visit from Brazilian government officials, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, for meetings and a dinner last weekend.
Trump shook hands and took a photograph with one member of the delegation who began showing symptoms of the virus three days after that meeting. He shared a dinner table with another diplomat, Brazilian Chargé d’Affaires Nestor Forster, whose symptoms appeared later in the week and who tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday morning, according to Trump’s physician, Sean Conley.
Trump has downplayed concerns about this meeting.
“There was somebody that they say has it, I have no idea who he is,” Trump said during the Friday press conference. “But I take pictures and it lasts for literally seconds. I don’t know the gentleman that we’re talking about, I have no idea who he is. I haven’t seen the picture.”
And that wasn’t the first time Trump has had a brush with coronavirus exposure. He and close congressional allies attended the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where one attendee, who met with and shook hands with a number of Republican lawmakers, later tested positive for the virus. Several of those lawmakers, including Reps. Doug Collins and Paul Gosar, have chosen to self-quarantine, something the president has said he will not do.
Trump said Saturday, however, that he has taken a coronavirus test, and expects results to come back in a day or two. But even if he is not infected with the virus, the measures the White House has begun to take are important steps for protecting the president, who, at 73, is part of the demographic most affected by it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that people above the age of 60, as well as those with compromised immune systems, are at higher risk for adverse reactions to the virus.
Speaking at Saturday’s press conference, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams stressed the need for all people to take precautionary measures, regardless of their general health, in order to protect older Americans and those with health conditions.
“Social distancing and mitigation, they’re not to protect the 30-year-old or the 20-year-old from getting coronavirus,” he said. “They are there to protect your nana and granddaddy.”
Trump is a grandfather — and the White House’s new measures should help him limit further risk of exposure.