Doctor: Trump tests negative for coronavirus

WASHINGTON (AP) —

President Donald Trump has tested negative for the new coronavirus, according to the president's personal physician.

The White House released the test results Saturday night after Trump told reporters hours earlier that he had taken the coronavirus test, following days of resisting being screened despite the fact that he had been in recent contact with three people who have tested positive for the virus.

Trump told reporters at a White House briefing on Saturday that he had his temperature taken and it was “totally normal,” shortly before stepping into the room to discuss the government’s efforts to halt the spread of the virus. The pandemic has now infected more than 2,200 people in the U.S. and caused at least 50 deaths.

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Trump meets a delegation from Brazil
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Trump meets a delegation from Brazil
President Donald Trump arrive before a dinner with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump speaks before a dinner with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, right, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, at Mar-a-Lago, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
In this March 7, 2020 photo provided by Brazil's presidential press office, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, center, stands with President Donald Trump, second from left, Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Brazil's Communications Director Fabio Wajngarten, behind Trump partially covered, during a dinner in Florida. Wajngarten tested positive for the new coronavirus, just days after the trip, according to Bolsonaro's communications office on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Alan Santos/Brazil's Presidential Press Office via AP)
President Donald Trump is seated before a dinner with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, and Ivanka Trump, the daughter and assistant to President Donald Trump, at Mar-a-Lago, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (R) is pictured with his son Eduardo Bolsonaro (L) and an adviser, inside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on March 12, 2020 after being tested for the new coronavirus COVID-19 after a top aide contracted the disease following a trip on which both met with US President Donald Trump. (Photo by Sergio LIMA / AFP) (Photo by SERGIO LIMA/AFP via Getty Images)
This Dec. 18, 2019 handout photo provided by Agencia Brasil shows Communications Director Fabio Wajngarten in Brasilia, Brazil. Wajngarten, who attended weekend events with President Donald Trump in Florida, has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first time that someone known to have the virus was in close proximity to the president. Trump does not plan to be tested or go into self-quarantine, the White House said Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Carolina Antunes/Agencia Brasil via AP)
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The president had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have since tested positive for the virus, including three people he spent time with last weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

The Brazilian Embassy in Washington said late Friday that the country’s chargé d’affaires, Nestor Forster, tested positive after sitting at Trump’s dinner table. So, too, have a top aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took a photo with Trump and attended a party with him, and another person who attended a campaign fundraiser with the president that Sunday, according to two Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private health matters.

Trump, after days of insisting that he was not exhibiting symptoms of the virus, relented after being pressed by reporters about his resistance to testing when multiple lawmakers and countless citizens across the country who have had the same degree of exposure have not only tried to get tested, but also chosen to try to avoid potentially infecting others.

The president, according to two people close to the White House, had been reluctant to take the test for fear it would project weakness or worry. Trump has wanted to appear in full control during the crisis, and had expressed concerns that taking personal steps could undermine that appearance.

Trump came into office as self-described germaphobe who tried to avoid handshakes as he conducted his real estate business. But he acknowledged Saturday that he’s now finding it difficult to resist shaking hands, a habit that he says he’s picked up since becoming a full-time politician.

At a news conference Friday to announce he was declaring a national emergency, Trump eagerly shook the hands of several corporate executives, even though health policy experts on White House coronavirus task force have urged Americans to avoid physical contact to help stem the spread of the virus.

“People come up to me, they shake hands, they put their hand out,” Trump said. “It's sort of a natural reflex, and we're all getting out of it. All of us have that problem.”

The White House is stepping up efforts to try to keep the virus at bay.

On Saturday, the White House announced that it is now conducting temperature checks on anyone who is in close contact with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, including reporters who attend a White House briefing and anyone entering the Oval Office.

Pence also wrote a memo to White House staff Saturday reminding them to take precautions such as avoiding physical contact, washing hands frequently and staying home when sick.

“It’s imperative each one of us do our part to take the proper precautions to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe,” Pence wrote. “As an employee aboard the White House Complex, we have an additional duty to protect the health of our Executive Branch and those working with us.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, who is helping coordinate the U.S. response to the outbreak, noted that testing results reflect a snapshot in time and that it’s crucial for people to maintain precautions.

“When you get a negative test, that means you're negative that day,” Birx said. “That doesn't mean that you couldn't get the virus spreading overnight, because it replicates in your nose and your nasal secretions, and you would have a positive test tomorrow.”

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