WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Twitter early Friday morning that he and first lady Melania Trump have “tested positive for COVID-19.”
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump wrote.
Trump made the announcement about two hours after he said that he and the first lady were “waiting for our test results,” following the news that Hope Hicks, a top White House aide with whom they had recently traveled on Air Force One, had tested positive.
“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19,” Trump wrote. “Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!”
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the total number of people in the president’s inner circle and staff who may also have been infected with the disease, which, as of Friday morning, had killed nearly 208,000 Americans.
A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether he had been tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
At 74 years of age, Trump is at increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. His testing positive could also have major implications for the presidential election, which is just 32 days away.
Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, said in a statement that “the President and the First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
Trump, who trails former Vice President Joe Biden in most national and key swing state polls, had planned numerous campaign events in the coming days. Sickness or a lengthy quarantine could prevent him from attending the next scheduled debate with Biden on Oct. 15, or from campaigning in the final stretch.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the end of the first presidential debate. (Patrick Semansky/AP)
Shortly after Trump’s announcement, the first lady sent out her own tweet.
“As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19,” she wrote. “We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.”
The first lady did not respond to a request for comment.
Only three world leaders are known to have tested positive for COVID-19: Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, all of whom initially underestimated the threat of the virus.
In recorded interviews with journalist Bob Woodward, Trump admitted that he did not want to overplay the threat of COVID-19 to the American people. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward in March. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
During the pandemic, the president has continued to travel and hold some large events around the country, many in violation of local social distancing regulations. At these events, the president and his staff regularly appear without masks, although supporters are regularly offered face coverings. Trump has also held events at the White House where few masks have been seen. Lax social distancing protocols are the norm, for example at the crowded Sept. 26 ceremony in the Rose Garden when the president unveiled his nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, before a large crowd.
Hicks, who did not respond to requests for comment, is one of the president’s closest aides and often travels with him. She served as his spokesperson throughout the 2016 campaign before going on to work in the White House. According to Bloomberg, which was first to report Hicks’s positive COVID-19 test, she experienced symptoms on Wednesday night on the plane returning from Trump’s rally in Duluth, Minn., and subsequently tested positive on Thursday. Hicks also traveled with Trump to the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday.
White House social media director Dan Scavino wears a face mask as he accompanies President Trump, right, aboard Marine One on Thursday. (Alex Brandon/AP)
Although Hicks displayed symptoms on Wednesday evening, Trump flew to his golf club in New Jersey on Thursday and held multiple events. Following Hicks’s diagnosis, the president had been scheduled to hold a roundtable at his hotel in Washington, D.C., and a rally in Florida on Friday. Shortly after Trump announced his test results, the White House released updated guidance indicating that those events would be canceled.
Trump and his staff reportedly did not wear masks at the debate venue. Biden and his aides did wear masks at the event, though the former vice president appeared without a mask onstage with Trump. The pair did not shake hands and stayed some distance apart, as dictated by protocols put in place by the Cleveland Clinic, which co-hosted the event.
In the wake of the news about Hicks, Biden’s campaign reportedly asked a member of the media who was scheduled to travel with him on Friday not to join the press pool, because the reporter in question had traveled to Minnesota on board Air Force One with Trump and Hicks. The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Trump’s diagnosis.
On the debate stage Tuesday, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask.
“Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,” Trump said, as Biden laughed. “He could be speaking 200 feet away from it. And he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Cover thumbnail photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP
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