Coronavirus | Featured Stories

UPDATED: Trump Tests Negative Again, Considers Face Masks, Payments to Hospitals

President Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus a second time, according to a memo provided to media by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

“This morning, the President was tested again for COVID-19, utilizing a new rapid point-of-care test capability. He is healthy and without symptoms,” White House physician Sean Conley said in the memo distributed by Grisham.

The note, which was given to reporters early Thursday evening, said the commander-in-chief was tested that morning and received the results 15 minutes later.

“I did take a test. It just came out, this is from the White House physician,” Trump said at the briefing while holding up the memo. You may have it, just came out. I just took it this morning. And I took it, it took me literally a minute to take it and it took me — I guess it was 14 or 15 minutes (for results). I went to work, I didn’t wait for it, but it said it took 14 minutes or something with a conclusion and it said the President tested negative for COVID-19,” he told reporters during a briefing by the coronavirus task force.

Trump added that he had taken the test “really out of curiosity to see how quickly it worked, how fast it worked.” He emphasized, “It’s a lot easier. I’ve done them both and the second one is much more pleasant.”

The President tested negative for the virus in mid-March after coming into contact with two individuals who had tested positive.

In addition, the White House announced last month that it would begin conducting temperature checks on people who come in close contact with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The Trump administration is also reportedly formalizing new guidance to recommend that many Americans wear face coverings when they leave home, in an effort to slow the spread of the  coronavirus.

The recommendations, which were still being finalized Thursday, would potentially apply to individuals who live in areas hard-hit by COVID-19.

A person who is familiar with the White House coronavirus task force’s discussion said officials likely will suggest that non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandanas be used to cover the nose and mouth when going to places such as the grocery store or pharmacy. Medical-grade masks, including N95 masks, would be reserved for those dealing directly with the sick.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the proposed guidance before its public release.

Vice President Mike Pence also announced that the White House is considering making direct payments to hospitals to cover COVID-19 treatment costs for uninsured Americans.

Meanwhile, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says that incoming infection data indicates not enough Americans are abiding by guidelines in the national “call to action” to stop the spread of the virus.

Administration officials say the country’s infection and death rate from the virus are proportionate to what Italy is facing. Italy, which has a population of about 60 million people, has recorded about 14,000 deaths and 115,000 infections. The United States, with a population of about 327 million, has seen more than 5,900 deaths and more than 243,000 infections to date.

Birx added that Spain, Italy, France, and Germany have begun “to bend their curves.” However, she adds that Americans need to more closely follow the social distancing guidelines issued by the White House so the U.S. can also reduce its infection and death rates.

The White House originally issued its social distancing guidelines on March 16, asking Americans to work from home when possible, cancel onsite learning, and frequently wash hands. President Trump last Sunday extended the guidelines through April 30.