At a Monday evening news conference, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that he did not know whether President Trump had been tested for coronavirus.
Pence said he himself has not been tested.
As Trump departed the lectern in the White House press briefing room after brief remarks, reporters shouted out questions, including whether he had received a coronavirus test. The president had traveled back from a rally in Orlando, Fla., earlier in the day with a Republican lawmaker who was in self-imposed isolation after contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.
Trump didn’t reply.
“Let me be sure and get you an answer to that. I honestly don’t know,” Pence answered. “I don’t know the answer to the question, but we’ll refer that question and we’ll get you an answer from the White House physician very quickly.”
Moments before, a reporter asked Pence, who has been charged with leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, if he had himself been tested for the virus.
“I have not been tested for the coronavirus,” he replied. The vice president is 60.
But after the briefing, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released statement confirming that the president has not been tested for the virus that has infected over 600 people in the U.S.
“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.”
During Monday’s briefing, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that people over the age of 60 were at heightened risk from coronavirus and that the average age of those who had died of it is 80.
Hours earlier, Trump traveled on Air Force One with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of two Republicans who attended last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference and had contact with an attendee who has since been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Trump spoke at the conference himself.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, who also had contact with the infected person, traveled with Trump last week to CDC headquarters in Atlanta and was photographed shaking the president’s hand.
Both Gaetz and Collins announced Monday that they were placing themselves under self-quarantine to insure they had not been infected with, and would not further spread, the virus.
Before attending a fundraiser in Orlando on Monday, Trump shook hands with dozens of supporters who greeted him at at the city’s airport.
The administration has come under fire over what critics say has been a flat-footed response to calls to roll out more tests for the virus. The outbreak of coronavirus comes in the midst of presidential campaign and Trump has sought to assure Americans that his large rallies are “very safe.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked at Monday’s briefing whether he shared that assessment.
“I can’t comment on campaign rallies, it really depends,” Fauci said. “This is something in motion, it's an evolving thing. If you’re talking about having a campaign rally tomorrow in a place where there hasn’t been community spread, I wouldn’t criticize them for it.”
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