US President Donald Trump has tested negative for COVID-19, according to his doctor Sean Conley.
“Last night after an in-depth discussion with the president about Covid-19 testing he elected to proceed,” Conley said in a memorandum released through Trump’s Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Saturday evening.
“This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative.”
Trump said earlier in the day at a White House news conference that he had taken the test “only because the press is going crazy” while his doctor did not consider it necessary and he did not want to jump the queue while people were waiting for it.
He said, “I decided I should, based on the press conference yesterday. People were asking, ‘Did I take the test?'”
He had been criticised by the media for not having taken the test even though he had been exposed to a person who came down with the disease.
One reporter went to the extent of asking him on Friday if he was being “selfish” by not getting tested.
Following the outcry over possible exposures, the White House introduced temperature screening on Saturday for people who may come in contact with Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. Among the first reported to be affected by it was a journalist who was running a temperature and was barred from the news conference.
Trump said that his temperature was also checked before he entered the briefing room. Vice President Mike Pence and other officials confirmed that their temperatures were also tested before they came in.
A White House spokesperson, Judd Deere, said that “out of an abundance of caution” temperatures were being checked for anyone who could be in close proximity to Trump or Pence.
Vice President Mike Pence’s Spokesperson Katie Miller tweeted that the journalist who was turned away was checked three times and registered above the 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade) limit set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
The journalist was not identified. Another journalist tweeting as the CNN White House Team claimed the person turned away had only a temperature of 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees centigrade).
The CNN tweet said, “He was trying to get access to the briefing and was turned away and is being held by the press office on the White House driveway.”
Pence, who is heading the Coronavirus Task Force, said that he and his wife would be “more than happy to be tested.”
The controversy over Trump’s testing arose over him posing at a dinner for a picture at the Mar-a-Lago resort over the last weekend with Fabio Wajngarten, the communications chief of visiting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Wajngarten was later found to be infected with Covid-19. Bolsonaro shot down rumours that he was also infected with the virus, tweeting that a test had cleared him.
“One week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation in Mar-a-Lago, the President remains symptom-free,” Conley’s memo said on Saturday.
In a memo on Friday night, Conley had said that Trump did not need a test or a quarantine because his interactions with infected persons were considered low-risk under the guidelines of the CDC.
Referring to the Brazilian official, Conley said it was only a brief contact e “photograph, handshake.”
Conley said that they had learned on Friday evening that another person who had shared the dinner table with Trump and the White House delegation had shown symptoms of COVID-19, but only on Friday morning.