Updated at 3:48 p.m. ET
White House doctors have started giving rapid coronavirus tests to people who are “in close proximity” to President Trump or Vice President Pence.
“As the physician to the president and White House Operations continue to protect the health and safety of the president and vice president, starting today anyone who is expected to be in close proximity to either of them will be administered a COVID-19 test to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
The announcement comes as the U.S. ramps up testing efforts and the White House battles criticism that widespread testing did not begin early enough. It also follows the president’s second COVID-19 test, both of which were negative.
During his briefing with the coronavirus task force on Thursday, Trump indicated there wasn’t a medical reason for taking the most recent test.
“I took it out of curiosity to see how quickly it worked,” he said.
He took his first test last month because of exposure to someone who had tested positive.
Trump told reporters the second test, a rapid Abbott test, took only a minute and he got his results back within 15 minutes.
The CDC makes clear that testing decisions are at the discretion of state and local health departments but maintains that not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19.
The CDC defines three priority levels for clinicians when evaluating whether to test a patient.
- The first priority level is for hospitalized patients and health care workers displaying symptoms.
- Priority Level 2 is for patients who are at the highest risk of complication due to infections: first responders with symptoms, and patients displaying symptoms who are either in long-term care facilities, 65 years old and above, or those with underlying health conditions.
- Priority Level 3 includes symptomatic critical infrastructure workers, health care facility workers and people with mild symptoms in areas that have high levels of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus.
Right now, people without symptoms are not a priority for testing.