Donald Trump Jr. Defends Lack Of Masks, Social Distancing, As COVID19 Rampages Through White House

Even as the SASR-CoV2 virus rampages through the Trump White House, the refusal to wear masks and the failure to practice basic social distancing measures continues. Now, Donald Trump Jr. is defending these choices, suggesting that the COVID-19 tests given to everyone in contact with the president is protection enough — despite the high rate of false negatives, and his dad’s own skepticism about testing.

Trump Jr thinks tests are enough
[Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

There have been quite a few positive tests for COVID-19 in and around the White House lately. People reported on Saturday that, in addition to one staffer each for Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Ivanka Trump, 11 Secret Service employees had positive tests for the virus. After Pence’s Press Secretary’s positive test, Trump showed confusion about how the transmission of illness, complaining that the staffer had tested negative many times before testing positive.

Trump expressed disdain for the tests, not for the first time. While, obviously, an individual can become infected between tests, resulting in a positive test after multiple negative ones, Trump’s right about one thing: testing isn’t perfect. NPR reported that a rapid test, notable for its ability to produce results in minutes, had a 15% failure rate when used on samples known to contain the coronavirus.

Of course, testing combined with other measures, like masks, social distancing, and using teleconferencing where possible, offers additional protections against transfer of the virus. Still, MSNBC‘s Kyle Griffin tweeted Sunday afternoon to describe a meeting between the president and Republican House members — a group of nearly 20. Citing a HuffPost article, Griffin described the group as not only failing to mask or keep their distance, but with many members rubbing noses and touching faces.

It set Jr. — who, like his father, has referred to Griffin’s network as ‘MSDNC’ — off, and he fired off a conspiratorial response.

Though Trump Jr. expressed annoyance that ‘the media’ failed to tell the public about testing, the cited HuffPost piece explicitly states this.

…Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said the White House ”is the safest place you can come to″ and said every member of Congress was tested when they arrived.

However, what the president’s son himself isn’t mentioning is the rate of false negatives. If any of the participants in this meeting were infected, there’s about one chance in six that the rapid test mentioned above would fail to find it.

As important as testing is, and despite experts’ call for widespread testing of the general public, testing isn’t enough on its own. Experts continue to urge additional safety measures, including masks and physical distancing. The Trump White House already has a growing number of cases of COVID-19, and testing alone isn’t going to protect Trump — or Trump Jr. — from bein exposed to it.

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