President Donald Trump told reporters that he “tested very positively” for the coronavirus to explain that Thursday’s test for the disease came back negative.
Kyle Griffin, the senior producer for MSNBC’s The Last Word, and David Mack, a director of breaking news at Buzzfeed, tweeted a clip of the president speaking with the press on Thursday about his daily coronavirus test.
"I tested very positively in another sense, this morning. I tested positively toward negative, right. I tested perfectly this morning. Meaning I tested negative. … That's a way of saying it: positively toward the negative." pic.twitter.com/3Ppw4M9y8f
— David Mack (@davidmackau) May 21, 2020
“And I tested very positively in another sense,” Trump said. “So this morning, I tested positively toward negative, right? So no, I tested perfectly this morning. Meaning I tested negative. But that’s a way of saying it: Positively toward the negative.”
Social media users were quick to respond with scathing criticism and confusion over the statement.
“He’s consistently inconsistent, which makes his positively negative result an unbearably bearable expectedly unexpected answer,” wrote Parker Malloy, an editor for Media Matters.
“Trump tests positively toward the cognitively impaired, the demented, the mentally ill, the seriously disturbed. This type of garbled thought and speech is common in dementia,” wrote John M. Talmadge, a professor and physician in psychiatry.
Several others accused the president of suffering from dementia or mused about trying to understand what Trump meant by his words.
He made the statement while chatting about his prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine, the unproven anti-malarial drug that some have suggested may help ease symptoms of COVID-19. Trump shocked many when he announced he had been taking the drug, along with zinc, after several people in the West Wing tested positive for the virus.
He told reporters he thought he had just one day left of the drug regimen.
Trump is currently in Michigan to tour the Ford parts manufacturing plant, which recently transitioned to making ventilators for those impacted by the coronavirus. While speaking to the press prior to the trip, he said he was considering attending a manned test flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. He joked that he’d like to bring the press with him to see the test flight because he’d like to put the press in the spacecraft and “get rid” of them for a while.
Trump says he's considering heading to Florida for next week's space launch, then jokes "I hope you're all gonna join me. I'd like to put you in the rocket and get rid of you for a while." pic.twitter.com/4z4NTVrVT4
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) May 21, 2020
Trump’s visit to Michigan has been making headlines after Ford told the president he would be required to wear a face mask inside the facility, in accordance with company policy. It later retracted the statement, but the state attorney general warned that any business that allowed the president inside without a mask would face legal action.