President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday they would be tested daily for Covid-19 after a member of the U.S. military who works on the White House campus contracted the virus.
Trump told reporters he had "very little contact” with the service member who was infected, and that he tested negative both Wednesday and Thursday. The president said he would be tested daily going forward, instead of once a week.
"It’s a little bit strange,” Trump said of the staff member’s positive test.
CNN reported that the person was a member of the U.S. Navy who served as a valet in the White House residence, suggesting possible close contact with the president or his family. Service members detailed to the White House provide a range of household functions, including food service, hospitality and medical support.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed that a member of the military working at the White House had contracted coronavirus. Gidley said Pence also tested negative on Thursday.
The president and vice president "remain in great health,” Gidley said in a statement.
The service member is the second person working on the White House grounds who the administration has said tested positive for the coronavirus. A member of Pence’s staff contracted the disease in March and fully recovered.
Visitors to the White House campus have undergone temperature screenings for nearly two months, and in recent weeks the White House has begun giving rapid coronavirus tests to guests and staff members coming in contact with the president and vice president. Staff members are tested roughly every week, though some are tested more frequently.
The White House is using a test developed by Abbott Laboratories, which returns results in about 15 minutes and requires a basic swab of an individual’s nostrils. Trump has said he prefers the test to a more invasive version he received earlier in the coronavirus epidemic.
News of the positive test comes amid controversy over Trump’s decision not to wear a mask during a visit to a Honeywell Intergnational Inc. mask production plant in Arizona. Trump has defended the decision by saying Honeywell executives told him it wasn’t necessary, and pointing to the regular tests he undergoes to argue he isn’t a risk for spreading the virus.
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