Trump Says He ‘Tested Positively’ for Testing Negative for Coronavirus

Let’s parse the president’s statement

Donald Trump
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Thursday he recently tested negative for the coronavirus, but his phrasing requires some work to understand.

Here’s what he told reporters outside the White House: “I tested very positively in a, in another sense. So, this morning, yeah, I tested positively toward negative, right? So, no, I tested perfectly this morning, meaning I tested negative.”

He made the remarks as he was preparing to leave for Michigan and tour a Ford plant that is helping make supplies to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Boiled down, the comments amount to the president saying he tested negative for the virus in the morning, which is a positive thing.

Trump has been making other declarations about his health this week, too. On Monday, he told reporters he has been taking the malaria and lupus medication hydroxychloroquine, which has not been proven to affect the coronavirus and, in fact, was linked in at least one study to mortality among users in at-risk populations. He was criticized online for the statement and Fox News’ Neil Cavuto even issued a warning to his own viewers that the drug “will kill” them if taken outside of doctors’ orders. Trump later lashed out at Cavuto.

Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said he is not taking hydroxychloroquine himself, but would if his doctor recommended it. Friday on Fox Business Network, Pence was asked by Stuart Varney if Trump planned to wear a mask at the Ford factory. Trump and Pence have both been criticized for not wearing masks on official visits, including once by Varney himself.

“The president made it clear that he would make that decision on a situational basis and I’m very confident that the president will take the guidance of the White House physicians about what’s most appropriate. We put no higher priority than on the health and wellbeing of the President of the United States of America as he continues to lead this nation,” Pence said.

During the same White House gaggle in which Trump said he “tested positively toward negative,” he was asked if he planned to wear a mask in Michigan.

“I don’t know. We’re going to look at it. A lot of people have asked me that question. I want to get our country back to normal. I want to normalize. One of the other things I want to do is get the churches open. The churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of the Democrat governors,” he replied.

Later, he appeared at the plant with no mask, claiming he wore one “in the back area” but removed it because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”