WASHINGTON (CN) — A Brazilian official who met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence just days ago has tested positive for COVID-19, but the White House says neither Trump nor Pence will be tested for the coronavirus.
Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for coronavirus Thursday, according to Brazil’s O Globo newspaper.
Wajngarten attended an event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday with Bolsonaro and posted a photo online with both Trump and Pence. Other media posted to Wajngarten’s Instagram page show Trump speaking to the Brazilian delegation in close quarters. Trump and Pence both are seen holding brown hats that read, “Make Brazil Great Again.”
In a White House meeting Thursday with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Trump again said he was unconcerned with contracting the disease.
“I did hear something about that,” Trump said of Wajngarten’s diagnosis. “We had dinner together. We did nothing unusual. We sat next to one another for a period of time.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham later released a statement saying the situation was being monitored closely and that the White House Medical Unit had been working closely to protect the First and Second families.
“The White House is aware of public reports that a member of the Brazilian delegation’s visit to Mar-a-Lago last week tested positive for COVID-19; confirmatory testing is pending,” she said. “Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.”
Trump said Tuesday during a lunch meeting with Republican senators that White House doctor Ronny Jackson told him there was no reason to be tested for the disease, which has infected more than 1,300 nationally and claimed the lives of at least 36 Americans. More than 115,000 people have been infected globally, according to the World Health Organization.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal, I would do it … I feel extremely good, I feel very good, but I guess it’s not a big deal to get tested and is something I would do,” Trump said Tuesday. “There’s no symptoms, no anything.”
However, by Wednesday the president recognized the coronavirus’ severity, announcing a 30-day ban on travel from Europe, effective Friday at midnight. The restriction will not apply to U.S. citizens or legal residents.
Trump also has floated a payroll tax cut to aid Americans affected by the outbreak. The administration has said with access to a greater percentage of a person’s paycheck, that individual could offset sacrificed wages from staying home from work. The proposal has not received much support from Republicans or Democrats in Congress.
Democrats unveiled a plan to respond economically to coronavirus, introducing a bill that includes paid sick leave and expanded unemployment insurance. That bill was later shot down by Republicans, with members butting heads on the parameters and costs of paid sick leave—which would guarantee 14 days off for employees in the event of a public health emergency.
It appears lawmakers will continue to try bridging the gap between their proposed policies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday the Senate would remain in session next week to work on the coronavirus response, calling off a planned recess.
“I am glad talks are ongoing between the administration and Speaker Pelosi,” McConnell tweeted. “I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong.”
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