AGENCIES, Washington: ‘Seeing is believing’ is perhaps the adage the prompted President Donald Trump to undergo a second coronavirus test on Thursday, using a new diagnostic that produced a result in less than 15 minutes. The outcome of the test was he has not been infected and remains healthy.
“I think I took it really out of curiosity to see how quickly it worked,” said Trump, who also tested negative last month after coming into contact with a Brazilian official who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
A White House official said Trump took the newly released Abbott Laboratories test that offers results in 15 minutes or less.
At his daily White House news briefing, Trump said Americans should wear protective face masks if they wish. “If people want to wear them, they can” he said. Scarves work just as well, he said.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working on a recommendation about masks to add to US guidelines on how Americans can best protect themselves. It is critical, she said, that people do not “get a false sense of security” that they are protected from the virus by wearing a mask, because there are plenty of other ways that infections can occur.
Vice President Mike Pence said Trump is expected to announce on Friday a plan to compensate hospitals for treating and testing uninsured coronavirus patients.
“We don’t want any American to worry about the cost of getting tests or the costs of getting treatment,” said Pence. “The president will be addressing that tomorrow.”
Trump announced that the US military and federal personnel will operate a makeshift hospital set up in the Javits Center convention center in New York to help the city grapple with a flood of patients. The Javits Center operation will treat non-coronavirus patients, freeing up hospitals to care for those with the virus.
New York has become the epicenter of the US epidemic with more than 47,000 confirmed cases in the city.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, a member of the coronavirus task force, said the government will send to the New York public hospital system 200,000 N-95 protective masks to help medical workers get through the next month.
Trump, who had initially played down the threat from the virus, made use of the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to order companies to produce hospital ventilators essential in keeping alive patients hit hard by the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. He said he also used the law to get General Motors Co to produce more N-95 masks. “We have over 100,000 (ventilators) being built right now or soon to be started,” Trump said.
The US recorded 1,169 coronavirus fatalities in the past 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker on Thursday, the highest one-day death toll recorded in any country since the global pandemic began.