AGENCIES, Washington: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, the President announced early on Friday morning, an extraordinary development coming months into a global pandemic and in the final stretch of his re-election campaign.
The diagnosis amounts to the most serious known health threat to a sitting American President in decades. At 74 years old, Trump falls into the highest risk category for serious complications from the disease, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans and more than 1 million people worldwide.
His infection with the disease could prove destabilizing in an already fraught political climate, and stock market futures tumbled on news of Trump’s infection.
“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 tweeted on Friday.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey. He did not appear ill, though did not speak to reporters as he walked into his residence.
In a memo issued to reporters around 1 am, the President’s physician, Navy Commander Dr Sean Conley, wrote he received confirmation of the positive tests on Thursday evening. “The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” Conley wrote, adding, “The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions.”
The President had said late on Thursday night that he planned to quarantine after one of his closest aides tested positive for the infection. “Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” Trump tweeted on Thursday night.
While the White House frequently touts its extensive testing regime for the President and those who come into close proximity with him — aides have deemed him the “most tested man in the country” — he has eschewed practices like social distancing and mask wearing. At Tuesday evening’s presidential debate, the President mocked his rival for frequently wearing a mask.
After announcing the President’s diagnosis, the White House issued a new schedule to reflect several cancelled events, including a fundraiser in Washington and a campaign rally in Florida.
Hicks has travelled with the President multiple times recently, including to the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, and was seen boarding Marine One, along with several other of the President’s closest aides, none of whom wore masks.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that a 14-day quarantine should take place after the last known exposure to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. This is because the incubation period for the novel coronavirus can be up to two weeks.