President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19, the president announced early Friday.
“@FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” he tweeted.
In a letter, Trump’s physician said he and the first lady “are both well at this time” and “plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
“Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments,” presidential physician Sean Conley wrote, vowing to “maintain a vigilant watch” along with the White House medical team.
The bombshell news came just a few hours after the president confirmed the news that Hope Hicks, one of his closest confidantes, had tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling with him multiple times in the past week. She flew with the commander in chief to campaign rallies in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, as well as to Tuesday’s presidential debate in Ohio, and she was seen in photos both with and without a face covering.
A rally scheduled for Friday in Florida was canceled after Trump’s positive test result, raising the question of whether the diagnosis will derail the president’s campaign just 32 days before Election Day on Nov. 3. Both Trump, 74, and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, 77, are considered to be in the high-risk category for the virus.
Biden’s campaign was not immediately available to comment on whether he will also undergo testing after Trump’s diagnosis, which comes just two days after the two faced off on the debate stage.
The president had said earlier Thursday night that in light of Hicks’ diagnosis, he and the first lady would begin quarantining as they awaited their test results.
“Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “We’ll see what happens. Who knows. I spend a lot of time with Hope. So does the first lady.”
Trump also appeared to suggest at that time that Hicks may have contracted the virus from members of law enforcement or the military, saying, “When soldiers and law enforcement comes up to her, you know, she wants to treat them great. Not say, ‘Stay away, I can’t get near you.’”
“They want to hug you and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them. You get close and things happen,” he said.
A White House spokesman had offered reassurances hours earlier when many were still reeling over the news that a close aide to the president had contracted the virus.
“The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to Bloomberg. “White House Operations collaborates with the physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible, both on complex and when the president is traveling.”
According to The New York Times, White House officials had been aware since Wednesday evening that Hicks had contracted the virus.
Hicks, who is said to be showing symptoms and was quarantined on Air Force One while traveling back from Minnesota on Wednesday, was the latest in a growing circle around the president to contract the coronavirus—Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive in May, as did Trump’s own valet. Others include National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, a Marine One pilot, a White House cafeteria worker, and multiple Secret Service agents.
Trump has publicly mocked the use of face masks as a protective measure against COVID-19 despite the consensus of public health officials, including his own advisers, that they effectively slow the virus. He himself wears one infrequently, and he has poked fun at former Vice President Joe Biden for donning one. Against the advice of public health officials, he has hosted indoor campaign rallies in recent weeks, frequently shrugging off concerns that the events could exacerbate the pandemic by joking that the rallies count as “peaceful protests.”
The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected over 7 million.