US President Donald Trump has delivered the latest in a series of bizarre pronouncements on the coronavirus, this time telling reporters his own recent test was "positively toward negative".

Speaking to reporters ahead of his visit to a Ford plant in Michigan, Trump said: "I tested very positively, in another sense, this morning. I tested positively toward negative, right?

"No, I tested perfectly this morning - meaning I tested negative. But that's a way of saying it: positively toward the negative."

The bizarre stream of consciousness follows his admission he was taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent getting infected, despite warnings against its use from the FDA.

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He also claimed the high case count currently suffered by the US is a "badge of honour" and toured a factory producing masks without wearing one himself.


Trump's detractors were quick to jump on the statement, with some suggesting the mixed phrasing was a symptom of dementia.

Testing around the White House has been stepped up in recent weeks after members of the President's inner circle began to fall victim to Covid-19.

One of Trump's valets and Vice-President Mike Pence's press secretary have both recorded positive tests.

Ongoing feud

Trump's visit to the Ford plant in Michigan was another flashpoint for the president, coming amidst a war of words with the state's governor.

Trump visited Ypsilanti, outside Detroit, to tour a Ford Motor Co factory that had been repurposed to manufacture ventilators, the medical breathing machines governors begged for during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Again, the president did not publicly wear a face covering despite a warning from the state's top law enforcement officer that a refusal to do so might lead to a ban on his return.

President Donald Trump speaks as he tours Ford's Rawsonville Components Plant that has been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment. Photo / AP
President Donald Trump speaks as he tours Ford's Rawsonville Components Plant that has been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment. Photo / AP

All of the Ford executives giving Trump the tour were wearing masks, the president standing alone without one. At one point, he did take a White House-branded mask from his pocket and claim to reporters he had worn it elsewhere on the tour, out of public view.

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"I did not want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it," Trump said.

For a moment, he also teasingly held up a clear shield in front of his face. A statement from Ford said that Bill Ford, the company's executive chairman, "encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived" and said the president wore it during "a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years" before removing it.

The United Auto Workers union noted in a statement that "some in his entourage'" declined face masks and said "it is vitally important that our members continue to follow the protocols that have been put in place to safeguard them, their families and their communities".

Stable genius. Photo / AP
Stable genius. Photo / AP

The UAW also noted Trump's statement that he had just been tested for the virus and said it wanted to make sure he understood the wider "need for an economical instant test that can be administered daily to further protect our members - and all Americans."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that mask wearing isn't just Ford's policy but it's also the law in a state that's among those hardest hit by the virus.

Nessel said that if Trump refused to wear a mask Thursday "he's going to be asked not to return to any enclosed facilities inside our state" and "we're going to have to take action" against any company that allows it in the future.

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Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website
- Additional reporting, AP