White House: No “Public Health Value” in Revealing If Trump Still Has COVID-19 (Even If He Holds a Rally This Weekend)

As Donald Trump muses about holding a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday and Pennsylvania on Sunday night, a reasonable question for the White House to answer would be if the president has actually tested negative for COVID-19, given that it is transmitted through the air and campaign events of yore have been mask-free affairs with supporters packed in as tightly as possible. Furthermore, it would be helpful to reveal when the president last tested negative prior to his diagnosis last week, as it could inform people who interacted with him if they were exposed to the virus. But according to the administration, that’s private information that the public is not privy to!

Speaking to MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson on Friday, White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern spent an entire segment refusing to say when Trump last tested negative, despite Jackson asking him half a dozen times. “Why not be more transparent with people about this last negative test?” Jackson asked. “You know there is a public health reason for this and it impacts the people who were potentially exposed to the virus before the president was diagnosed. Why not be transparent about that specific, very specific piece of information?”

“So Hallie,” Morgenstern explained, “I stated we’ll have further updates from the doctors, we’ve had updates from the doctors every single day, we’ve had numerous updates per day in some cases…we’re being extremely transparent…I’m not sure why you’re very focused on that question because it’s not something that has the public health value.“

Speaking for all rational people who don’t want to be infected with a potentially lethal disease, Jackson responded: “Okay, I think medical experts would absolutely disagree with that, about the public health value, because the reason—as we’ve talked about ad nauseam and as I think you know that that is important—is because it determines the potential exposure for other people, Brian, people that you work with.… You are not saying when the president’s last negative test was, let’s be clear about that.”

Speaking to his best buddy Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Trump, who audibly coughed during the interview and at some moments seemed to be out of breath, refused to even say if he still is testing positive for the virus.

Even if the president were to test negative for the coronavirus today, some health experts warn it would still be totally inappropriate for him to hold a rally this weekend. While Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say that people with mild to moderate cases can remain infectious for up to 10 days after symptoms appear, there are signs that point to Trump’s case being more severe than that. Based on the information that‘s been provided to the public, Phyllis Tien, M.D., an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Francisco, told the New York Times she “would not clear [Trump] to start public engagements on Saturday,” as his doctor suggest he might.

Dr. Tien said she was skeptical of such an assessment. The slew of treatments Mr. Trump received, she said, suggest that his disease was severe, which could extend the duration of his recommended isolation to 20 days after the onset of symptoms.… Even if Mr. Trump met the criteria for a mild or moderate case of COVID-19, a Saturday release from isolation might not pass muster. While the president is known to have been diagnosed on Octover 1, the point at which his symptoms began appearing remains murky. If they first manifested on September 30, then Saturday could qualify as 10 days post-symptom onset. If they started on October 1, Day 10 would be Sunday.

“This is bigger than him,” Dr. [Krutika] Kuppalli said. “Everyone is going to have a different point of view. But I would still err on the safe side, and keep him isolated for 20 days.”

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