In the wake of President Donald Trump testing positive for COVID-19 the day after visiting Minnesota, the state Department of Health has instructed attendees of his events to get tested, and anyone who came within contact of the president to also quarantine for two weeks after testing.
Trump attended a fundraising event in Shorewood on Wednesday before flying on Air Force One with Minnesota Republican leaders to Duluth for a rally. MDH says there's a potential risk of transmission at these events, noting that community transmission of the virus was already high in St. Louis County prior to this week's rally, and people who went could have unknowingly had the virus.
"... The likelihood of someone in the audience catching the virus from someone on stage is fairly minimal," St. Louis County Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook said in a statement. "However, with an estimated attendance of at least 3,000 people at the rally, there's a pretty good likelihood that some of the attendees had the virus and were contagious, so as we would with any event, we strongly encourage participants to quarantine, monitor themselves for symptoms and consider getting tested."
MDH recommends getting tested "right away" if you attended the president's events and have symptoms. If you don't have symptoms, still consider getting tested as not everyone who has COVID-19 exhibits symptoms but can still spread the virus.
"People should get tested five to seven days after the event. If they test negative, they should get tested again around 12 days after the event. People should get tested in their home communities and seek testing from their health care provider when possible," MDH says.
St. Louis County public health officials note that a COVID test is a point in time indicator, so if a person is tested too soon, their result may be negative even though they could be infected.
Quarantine if you had contact
Those who had close contact with President Trump, including a number of prominent local Republicans, should quarantine for 14 days, MDH says.
"Anyone who was a direct contact of President Trump or known COVID-19 cases needs to quarantine and should get tested," MDH says. "It is important to understand that quarantine for 14 days is necessary regardless of test results."
Some GOPers who met with Trump while he was in Minnesota have said they'll quarantine until they get their test results, while Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said he'll quarantine for 14 days.
This guidance isn't just for people who've attended Trump's events. MDH says anyone who has attended any large group gathering, especially those with limited social distancing and/or limited masking, should keep an eye out for symptoms of COVID-19 and limit social interactions for 14 days — even if they don't have symptoms.
In response to Trump's recent visit and diagnosis, MDH says it will focus on contract tracing among Minnesota residents.
"The public health response to this development is the same as it would be for any other situation involving positive cases and close contacts," MDH said in a statement Friday. "While we work with other public health departments collaboratively, our department does not get involved in the contact tracing for President Trump and his staff, or for others who are not Minnesota residents. Our focus is on contact tracing and case investigations for Minnesota residents."
MDH also said, "Our thoughts are with President Trump, the First Lady and others as they deal with COVID-19 infections. We wish them a speedy and full recovery."