White House physician says Trump has tested negative for Covid, is no longer infectious

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President Donald Trump has tested negative for Covid-19 on consecutive days and is not infectious to others, his physician said on Monday.

Antigen tests from Abbott were used, along with laboratory data that included viral load, to determine that the president would not be able to spread the coronavirus to others, Sean Conley said in a memo to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

McEnany released the memo just hours before Trump was to hold his first rally since his diagnosis was made public on Oct. 1. Trump did not wear a mask as he was boarding his flight to the rally in Florida, raising concerns that he might infect staffers and journalists surrounding him.

“This comprehensive data, in concert with the CDC’s guidelines for removal of transmission-based precautions, have informed our medical team’s assessment that the President is not infectious to others,” Conley said in the memo.

Although his medical team said late last week that the president was safe to resume public activities over the weekend, Monday was the first time the physicians backed up their assessment with testing results.

Skepticism still remains about the pronouncements of Trump’s medical team, which hasn’t been transparent about the president’s health conditions. Several details still remain unclear, such as the results of his lung scan and the timing of his last negative test before the diagnosis. Conley had also sidestepped questions about whether the president had received supplemental oxygen, before disclosing the information a day later.

After announcing his diagnosis, the president was taken to Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Oct. 2. There he received an experimental drug, which was developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and has rarely been used outside of clinical trials. He was also on dexamethasone, which is often administered in severe cases, after experiencing “transient low oxygen levels,” along with remdesivir, which is an antiviral drug that has been authorized to treat Covid-19. Experts say the cocktails of drugs suggest he might have experienced severe symptoms. Trump, however, has downplayed his condition by calling it “pretty much routine.”

The president returned to the White House on Oct. 5 after three days of treatment. By Oct. 7, his physician announced that he had been symptom-free for 24 hours. His medical team announced that he could resume public activities on Saturday, though Anthony Fauci, speaking on CNN on Monday, expressed concern that Trump was resuming his rallies. “We know that is asking for trouble when you do that,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

Trump had already claimed immunity to Covid-19 on Sunday, a day before his medical team announced he was not infectious. Despite uncertainty around the nature of Covid-19 immunity, the president sounded confident: “It looks like I’m immune for, I don’t know, maybe a long time, maybe a short time,” Trump said to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “It could be a lifetime. Nobody really knows, but I’m immune.”

On Monday, during the brief period he faced reporters before boarding his flight to his Florida rally, Trump looked and sounded like his usual self. His hand, however, still sported a large bandage — a reminder that until recently the president underwent extensive treatment for a virus that spurred a pandemic.

Several other people in Trump’s inner circle have also tested positive, and many of the cases can be traced back to the White House Rose Garden event, where the president announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Attendees who tested positive for the virus include first lady Melania Trump, Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway. Lee attended the first day of Barrett’s nomination hearing on Monday in person, wearing a mask some of the time, while Tillis participated virtually.

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