ANYONE expected to be near President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will have to take a coronavirus test, the White House announced on Friday.
Those “in close proximity” to Trump or Pence “will be administered a COVID-19 test to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,” spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement.
Last month, the White House said it would conduct temperature checks on those who came in close contact with the nation’s top leaders.
Officials said Trump took a coronavirus test for the second time on Thursday morning and tested negative, and was “healthy and without symptoms.”
He first took a test after coming in contact with a Brazilian official who tested positive for COVID-19.
The vice president has also tested negative for the virus.
Trump said there was no medical reason he took the second test on Thursday, but said: “I think I took it really out of curiosity to see how quickly it worked.”
The new test, from Abbott Laboratories, offers coronavirus results in 15 minutes or less.
The White House’s statement comes as more evidence continues to emerge that coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms.
In a study conducted in Singapore and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, researchers found around 10 percent of the world’s new infections might have come from people who had the coronavirus — but were asymptomatic.
Because of the study, the CDC changed how it was defining the risk of infection for Americans.
Their new guidance essentially says that anyone may be considered a carrier of the coronavirus, whether they have symptoms or not.
On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed suit in his city, the epicenter of the virus’ spread in the U.S.
“When you put on that face covering, you’re protecting everyone else,” he said.
De Blasio said it could be a scarf or a bandana or anything homemade, but it should not be a surgical mask needed by front-line medical workers.
Trump on Thursday said “if people want to wear [masks], they can” he said, adding that scarves work, too.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Fox News on Friday: “Because of some recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing — the better part of valor is that when you’re out, when you can’t maintain that 6-foot distance, to wear some sort of facial covering.”
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But Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force’s coordinator, said the White House was concerned the mask guidance would lead to a “false sense of security.”
She said new data shows the administration’s social-distancing guidelines were not being followed to the extent necessary to keep virus-related deaths to a minimum.
As of Friday, the U.S. had at least 270,000 coronavirus cases, with nearly 7,000 deaths.
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