WASHINGTONWASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the coronavirus contagion spreading, the White House said on Friday that anyone expected to be near President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a rapid COVID-19 test out of an abundance of caution.
The test is expected to be the same quick-action test that Trump took on Thursday. He took the Abbott Laboratories test, which provides results in 15 minutes or less.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said, "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."
One of the vexing revelations about the virus is that infected people can spread it without even knowing they have the illness or before symptoms have become evident.
The plan was put into immediate effect. Many oil executives who met Trump at the White House nodded yes when asked if they had been tested prior to the meeting in the White House Cabinet Room.
Asked about it at his meeting with the oil executives, Trump indicated he was not aware of the policy.
"You know what? I like it. Let's test these guys," he told reporters. "Listen: They gave us millions of jobs. If anybody wants to be tested, we'll test them."
Trump has now been tested twice for the coronavirus and both times tested negative. Pence was also tested and was negative.
The White House has put social distancing measures into place, such as providing more space between seats at events. But there are limits to how much distancing can be done given how relatively small office space is in the West Wing.
(Reporting By Steve Holland, Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis)