Trump tests negative for the coronavirus on consecutive days, White House doctor says

U.S. President Donald Trump, with bandages seen on his hand, takes off his face mask as he comes out on a White House balcony to speak to supporters gathered on the South Lawn in Washington, October 10, 2020.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

President Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus “on consecutive days,” a White House physician said Monday, the first disclosure that Trump has tested negative for the virus since he revealed his diagnosis earlier this month.

Dr. Sean Conley, in a brief memo shared hours before Trump was scheduled to host a reelection campaign rally in Florida, said that the president’s latest Covid-19 results came from an antigen test from Abbott Laboratories.

But Conley’s memo noted that a variety of laboratory data all show the virus is no longer active in the president’s body.

“Repeatedly negative antigen tests, taken in context with additional clinical and laboratory data, including viral load, subgenomic RNA, and PCR cycle threshold measurements, as well as ongoing assessment of viral culture date, all indicate a lack of detectable viral replication,” Conley wrote.

Since Trump announced on Oct. 2 that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus, the White House has consistently refused to answer when asked when the president last tested negative before his positive diagnosis.

Knowing when the president last tested negative could provide crucial information about when he was infected and by whom, as well as whom Trump may have exposed to the virus while he was contagious.

Trump, 74, had flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the same day he shared his diagnosis. He stayed there for three days before returning to the White House, where he remained until Monday evening, when he boarded Air Force One for the outdoor rally in Sanford, Florida.

The president has been eager to return to the campaign trail, where has just over three weeks left before the election against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who is currently leading Trump in the polls.

The former Vice President Biden, 77, tested negative for the coronavirus earlier Monday.

Trump has been criticized for holding in-person campaign rallies, a signature component of his winning 2016 campaign. Leading health experts, including those in his own administration, have said the gatherings are unsafe during the pandemic because of the heightened risk of transmission of the virus.

“We know that that is asking for trouble,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a CNN interview on Monday afternoon when asked about the public-health risks of the rallies.

Trump has long downplayed the threat of the virus and pressured state leaders to lift their strict social distancing restrictions, in part to revive the U.S. economy.

Despite the U.S. holding the world-record death toll from Covid-19 — more than 214,000 deaths — and a recent uptick in the number of cases being reported daily, Trump has continued to push for “reopening” the country.

“Lockdowns are killing countries all over the world,” Trump tweeted Monday evening before the rally. “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. Open up your states, Democrat governors. Open up New York. A long battle, but they finally did the right thing!”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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