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Trump says he will ‘most likely’ get tested for COVID-19


U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he will likely be tested for the coronavirus “fairly soon,” as questions swirled about why the president, his top aides and his family weren’t doing more to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.

In the face of repeat direct and indirect exposures, Trump was defensive, insisting he didn’t need to isolate himself because he wasn’t exhibiting symptoms. But he conceded he would “most likely” submit to testing after a top Brazilian official who spent time with him last weekend in Florida tested positive for the virus.

At the same time, Trump continued to flout public health officials’ advice by publicly and repeatedly shaking hands during a Rose Garden address on efforts to combat the pandemic. At the same event, he allowed that “anyone can be a carrier of the virus” and risk infecting older Americans and others at higher risk.

The president, according to two people close to the White House, has resisted taking the test for fear it would project weakness or worry. Trump has wanted to appear in full control during the crisis, especially as he tries to calm stock markets amid historic drops, and has expressed concerns that taking personal steps could undermine that.

Trump continued to stress Friday that he is not exhibiting any symptoms of infection, but he skirted questions about whether he was being selfish by refusing to isolate himself when others who have had similar exposure have chosen to do so to avoid potentially infecting others. Asked whose advice people with similar exposure should listen to in the face of the contradictory messages, Trump said, “I think they have to listen to their doctors.”

Trump has also had repeated contact with lawmakers who were themselves exposed to people who later tested positive and chose to self-isolate out of an abundance of caution.

As White House officials worked to determine the level of exposure by the president and senior aides, Trump held an afternoon news conference and announced he was declaring a national emergency — something he had been reluctant to do for fear it would further rattle the markets — and unveiled a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities.

Still, he said that, “We don’t want everyone taking this test,” adding: “It’s totally unnecessary. This will pass.”

The president had up until Friday declined to be tested for the virus or to limit his contact with others, professing no concern about potential exposure as his White House insisted they were following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. He told reporters Thursday that he was “not concerned,” adding Friday that, “we have no symptoms whatsoever.”

And even as he refused to modify his own behaviour — including continuing to shake hands — Trump told the nation that, “We must take all precautions” and be “responsible for the actions” that we take and see others take.

Trump spent time last weekend with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director, Fabio Wajngarten, who tested positive just days later. Wajngarten posed for a photo with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club and attended a birthday party for Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. The president attended the party as well. There were also fears that Bolsonaro himself might have the virus, but he said Friday he’d tested negative.

The White House stressed that Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence “had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.”

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