Coronavirus: Donald Trump has tested negative, says White House as he returns to campaign trail

United States President Donald Trump has tested negative “on consecutive days” using a rapid antigen coronavirus test, the White House physician, Dr Sean P Conley, said in a statement released on Monday as the president began a rally in Florida. This came 10 days after Trump announced he had contracted the coronavirus

“In response to your inquiry regarding the president’s most recent Covid-19 tests, I can share with you that he has tested NEGATIVE, on consecutive days, using the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen card,” Conley wrote. He said the tests were taken “in context with additional clinical and laboratory data”.

But Conley did not reveal the last time Trump tested negative prior to his positive diagnosis of the virus or how severe his symptoms were. The White House physician said the negative tests and other clinical and laboratory data “indicate a lack of detectable viral replication”. The president’s medical team had determined that based on the data and guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that “the president is not infectious to others”, Conley added.

The BinaxNOW, which functions like a pregnancy test, looks for a protein produced by the coronavirus, according to The New York Times. It is most effective when the amount of virus in the body is high. However, the test is known to be much less sensitive than the Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR test.

The doctor’s memo was released moments after Trump was seen boarding Air Force One without a mask on his way to Sanford, Florida, where addressed a poll rally. Although Trump’s campaign is conducting temperature checks and handing out masks and hand sanitisers, there is no physical distancing at the rallies, according to CNN.

‘I feel so powerful I could kiss your face’: Trump

Addressing the rally in Florida, Trump said he was in “great shape” and once again claimed that he was now “immune” to the coronavirus, AFP reported. “I went through it and now they say I’m immune,” Trump told the crowd, few of whom wore masks. Trump was not wearing one either.

On the same day, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that too little was known about immunity and that the United Nations health agency has documented instances of people becoming reinfected with coronavirus after recovering from an initial bout of the virus. Studies have also not yet established whether being infected with Covid-19 leads to future immunity.

“I feel so powerful,” Trump added. “I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, just give you a big fat kiss.”

Trump also mocked his opponent, calling Joe Biden “Sleepy Joe” an apparent dig at the 77-year-old Democrat’s vitality. The president also said that “practically nobody showed up” to Biden’s campaign event.

Coronavirus: Donald Trump has tested negative, says White House as he returns to campaign trail
US President Donald Trump tosses face masks to the crowd as he takes the stage for a campaign rally in Florida. [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Trump’s conduct ‘unconscionable’: Biden

Biden, meanwhile, attacked the president ahead of the rally for playing down the threat of the virus early in the pandemic. “Trump knew how dangerous the disease was but did nothing,” Biden said “Why didn’t he tell us? Why didn’t he warn us?”

The Democrat contender said that Trump’s “reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis has been unconscionable”. “The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he seems to get,” Biden said.

Biden specifically attacked Trump’s Florida visit, saying he was bringing nothing but “divisive rhetoric and fear mongering” to the state. “But, equally dangerous is what he fails to bring: no plan to get this virus that has taken the lives of over 15,000 Floridians under control,” he added.


Coronavirus: Donald Trump has tested negative, says White House as he returns to campaign trail