President Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus, his physician said in a memo released by the White House Saturday night.
"Last night after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed," the memo from Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley reads. "This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative."
The memo says Trump does not have any symptoms of COVID-19. It does not say when Trump took the test, or if the results are from a preliminary test.
Trump said earlier Saturday that he had been tested for the coronavirus, directly contradicting a White House memo from Conley sent late Friday night stating that the president did not need to take the test.
Speaking to reporters Saturday afternoon, Trump said that he decided to get tested "based on the press conference yesterday."
"I took the test last night," he said. "People were asking: Did I take the test?"
Trump said he was tested Friday night, which is exactly when his own doctor sent an official memo explaining that the president would not be tested or self-quarantining. Trump had previously come into contact with two Brazilian officials who tested positive for COVID-19, one of them being Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten.
In the release just before midnight, Conley said that although Trump shook hands with one of the officials and "spent more time in closer proximity to the second case," the interactions were "low risk" for transmission, per CDC guidelines.
"Additionally, given the president himself remains without symptoms, testing for COVID-19 is not currently indicated," his doctor said.
However, on Saturday, the president told reporters at a press briefing that he had his temperature taken "coming into the room."
"So did we," the press responded.
"You did? Good. Let's compare. You want to compare?" the president asked.
He then launched into his decision to take the test the night before, given people's concerns about his own personal response to catching and spreading the virus.
Trump's test was sent a lab, he said.
The White House has been ridiculed for its delayed, jumbled, and incompetent response to the coronavirus, with critics saying that the president and his administration downplayed the severity of the disease and did not properly deploy resources and tests to vulnerable states to help them thwart the spread in time. A shortage of tests amid high demand has been one of the most pressing issues.
The president has also sent conflicting answers about whether he would get tested, shrugging off concerns given his proximity to a growing number of people who have tested positive for the virus. In a press conference on Friday, in which the president shook hands with several CEOs of major US companies, he suggested he would “most likely” get tested for the coronavirus.
Until his announcement Saturday, Trump had declined to be tested. He has also rebuffed questions from reporters about whether he should self-isolate, despite Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez doing so after coming in contact with Wajngarten. Suarez tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
Medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control have been sternly recommending that people, especially those who are 60 years and older, practice social distancing and stop shaking hands. The president has appeared to ignore those guidelines.
Fielding more questions about his often bewildering messaging, Trump said he was continuing to shake hands because it has become somewhat of a "habit" and it's a reflex, especially for politicians.
"Just take it nice and easy. Just relax," he told a reporter. "They put their hand out. It's sort of a natural reflex. And we're all getting out of it. All of us have that problem. People are thinking about it more and more. We have to think about it. It's important."