Has President Donald Trump been exposed to the coronavirus?
The president left a press conference on Monday night without taking any questions about his personal health after recently coming into contact with several lawmakers who were exposed to the deadly virus, The Hill reported. But the White House has clarified that Trump has not been tested for COVID-19 and is in “excellent” health.
Lawmakers self-quarantine after exposure
As cases of COVID-19 continued to pile up around the country on Monday, the outbreak took a dramatic turn when it was reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a top ally of the president, flew on Air Force One with Trump after coming into contact with an infected person at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Gaetz is now in self-quarantine, and so is Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who shook Trump’s hand on Friday.
Gaetz said Tuesday that his test came back negative, but he will stay in self-quarantine out of caution.
Also in self-quarantine are Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Trump’s new chief of staff, retiring congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC). Trump also shook hands with American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp.
At a press update on the coronavirus Monday night, Trump spoke about the status of the administration’s response and possible economic proposals to help out workers who may be affected by the outbreak. As Trump walked out of the briefing room, reporters peppered him with questions about whether he had been tested. Pence, who took over, said that he had not been tested but did not know whether Trump had been.
Trump in ‘excellent health’
However, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham released a statement clarifying that Trump has not been tested because he does not have any symptoms and did not have “prolonged close contact” with any confirmed carriers of the disease. “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,” Grisham said. “President Trump remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him.”
There are many unknowns about the COVID-19, but it is believed to pose a greater danger to older people and people with underlying health problems, the New York Post notes. Trump is 73 years old.
America braces for epidemic
Attendees at this year’s CPAC have complained about a lack of transparency concerning the infected attendees, Politico notes. The CPAC case also isn’t the first coronavirus scare in the Washington, D.C. political scene: a conference for pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have been compromised after several attendees tested positive.
Meanwhile, an Episcopalian priest from Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood has tested positive, it was reported Monday, raising concerns about transmissions with congregants. Monday’s developments came as an infected cruise ship, the Grand Princess, docked in Oakland, California. More than 20 people on the ship are believed to have the virus.
With at least 25 deaths and over 600 cases in more than 30 states, mainly New York, California and Washington, COVID-19 is sending a ripple of fear through the United States. But the Trump administration has urged Americans to remain calm as the president weighs economic policies to combat the impact of an epidemic that is spreading by the day.
Trump floated a payroll tax cut and paid sick leave Monday to blunt the economic impact, as more and more workplaces switch to remote work, compromising waiters, retail workers and others who do not have the luxury of working from home. The president is meeting with Republican lawmakers Tuesday to discuss the matter and said that he will hold another press conference Tuesday to discuss his economic response.