President Donald Trump canceled a planned trip to New Jersey on Friday, a decision the White House said was unrelated to a new order requiring visitors to the Garden State to quarantine after being in states with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.
Trump had been scheduled to fly in Air Force One on Friday afternoon to Morristown, New Jersey, and then planned to stay the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster.
Gov. Phil Murphy had told CNBC earlier in the day that his quarantine order would not have applied to Trump, because “by any definition the president of the United States is an essential worker.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the trip’s cancellation “had nothing to do with that” quarantine order.
Two days ago, Deere said that Trump still planned to go to New Jersey despite the order mandating that visitors who have been in states with high numbers of coronavirus cases quarantine for 14 days.
Murphy’s order mirrored identical directives issued this week by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.
Trump traveled to Arizona on Tuesday for an event at a church. Arizona has an increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
“The president of the United States is not a civilian,” said Deere on Wednesday.
“Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests, and press are tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative,” Deere said then.
“With regard to Arizona, the White House followed it’s COVID mitigation plan to ensure the President did not come into contact with anyone who was symptomatic or had not been tested.”
“Anyone traveling in support of the president this weekend will be closely monitored for symptoms and tested for COVID.”
Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s cancellation.
But Murphy, during an interview earlier on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” spoke about Trump’s then-scheduled visit, which the governor said would not be in conflict with his quarantine order.
“There is a carve out for essential workers and by any definition the president of the United States is an essential worker so the president is welcome obviously in New Jersey,” Murphy said.
On Thursday, Trump visited the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, where he delivered remarks about a multibillion-dollar contract for the facility to a cheering crowd.
During that appearance Trump repeated a claim that the U.S. is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases because it is testing more extensively than other countries.
“We have the greatest testing program in the world. We’ve developed it over a period of time. And we’re up to almost 30 million tests,” Trump said.
“That means we’re going to have more cases. If we didn’t want to test, or if we didn’t test, we wouldn’t have cases. But we have cases because we test. Deaths are down. We have one of the lowest mortality rates.”
The United States has had more than 2.4 million Covid-19 reported cases and 124,468 related deaths. The number of cases and deaths in the U.S. account for 25% of the total number of cases and deaths worldwide.
– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Tucker Higgins