Trump’s Coronavirus Test – What Did the President Know and When Did He Know It?

By Anna Breuer on 4 October 2020
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[Editor’s note: The question, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” was famously asked out loud by Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee during the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973 when questioning former White House counsel John Dean, who had systematically linked President Nixon to a pattern of corruption and obstruction of justice in the course of his testimony.]

President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, made the test results of a second positive test on Friday public, and was rushed to the hospital late Friday with worsening symptoms.

Here is what we know thus far.

Trump, appearing on a Fox News program Thursday night, failed to acknowledge that he had already tested positive for the coronavirus and, instead, focused on the news that Hope Hicks, a top aide, had tested positive.

The president had received a positive test result prior to his television appearance but said he was waiting for his test results.

“I’ll get my test back either tonight or tomorrow morning,” Trump said during the broadcast, despite already having the first test result in hand.

Prior to the interview, Trump went to a private fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club where he held a roundtable discussion with 18 people.  People attending the fundraiser were tested for the virus upon arrival but no one wore masks.  He then attended an outdoor event where he was socially distant from the attendees and stood at a podium holding a question-and-answer session.

The president then tweeted early Friday morning at 1 a.m. EDT that he indeed had tested positive, as had the first lady.

The first test that the president took was a rapid test that is not considered as reliable as one that uses a specimen from deep within the nasal passage, although those testing positive with the rapid test are still considered to have the virus and required to self-quarantine.


On Friday, Trump was suddenly hospitalized after his condition worsened.

While his doctors painted a rosy outlook at a news conference, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was more candid.

“The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Meadows said to reporters in the White House press pool, at first under the cloak of anonymity.  “We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

Meanwhile, the president came under heavy criticism when he left the hospital late Sunday to ride in a motorcade for several minutes so he could wave to his supporters who had gathered in the area.

“President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.

Patients who test positive for Covid-19 are typically required to quarantine for 14 days, which is the incubation period for the virus, to avoid infecting others. The president reportedly first tested positive and presented symptoms on Thursday, which means that he is likely to still be contagious.

“Why is a sick president riding in an SUV waving to supporters outside Walter Reed, jeopardizing the Secret Service agents inside the car with him?” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss in a tweet Sunday evening.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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