People in leadership positions like President Donald Trump don’t have some kind of special immunity to the Coronavirus just because of the work they happen to do, and throughout recent weeks, Trump himself has repeatedly been exposed to the virus — but for now, his personal White House physician Sean Conley says that the president supposedly doesn’t need to be getting tested for the disease. That’s despite his membership in an especially high-risk population, since he’s 73 years old. Trump’s encounters with Coronavirus sufferers include his attendance at CPAC and a recent Mar-a-Lago summit with an infected aide to Brazil’s president.
Conley claimed that the president’s absence of symptoms warranted the lack of need for testing. Eventually, at a Saturday press conference, Trump claimed that he did take the test after all. Still, these kinds of strict lockdowns on testing could help artificially keep infection numbers down because some cases simply won’t be officially reported. Conley claimed, referring first to a pair of individuals with the virus who were at Mar-a-Lago:
‘The President’s exposure to the first individual was extremely limited (photograph, handshake), and though he spent more time in close proximity to the second case, all interactions occurred before any symptom onset. These interactions would be categorized as LOW risk for transmission per CDC guidelines, and as such, there is no indication for home quarantine at this time. Additionally, given the president himself remains without symptoms, testing for COVID-19 is not currently indicated.’
So — Trump seemingly ate with someone who has the Coronavirus, and yet, he wasn’t initially slated to be getting tested.
The virus does appear to have been transmitted during the Brazilian delegation’s travel to Florida, because Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has tested positive for the virus after repeated close interactions with Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro’s team. Others who interacted with or were around the Brazilian delegation around that time, including Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have placed themselves under self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution because of their apparent exposure to the virus — but still, little for the president.
Trump has repeatedly sought to downplay the effects of the disease, even as cases and deaths have piled up. He’s even derided the idea that the deaths are anything to be overly concerned about, tweeting:
‘So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!’
So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
Now, there are about 2,200 confirmed Coronavirus cases in the U.S., and about 50 deaths. The cases stretch across every single state but West Virginia, with high population density areas like California, Washington, and New York hit especially hard.
Initially, Trump was not slated to get tested and told reporters that he was not “concerned.” Conley’s statement came after a White House press conference where Trump seemed to suggest otherwise. Around that same conference, Trump finally got around to declaring a national emergency over the Coronavirus, weeks after the virus first appeared in the U.S. The emergency declaration, like those in times of other potential disasters, helps legally free up funds and other resources for responding to the situation.