President Trump and First Lady test positive for COVID-19
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said on Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, just a month before the presidential election and after spending much of last year largely downplaying the threat virus.
Trump’s positive test came just hours after he confirmed senior assistant Hope Hicks, who had traveled with him several times this week, had fallen with the virus. Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House Thursday night and appeared to be in good health. Trump is 74, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has now killed more than 205,000 people across the country.
“Tonight @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will overcome this TOGETHER! Trump tweeted.
In a memorandum, the president’s doctor said Trump and the first lady, who is 50, “are both doing well right now” and “plan to stay at home in the White House while they recover.”
“Rest assured that I expect the president to continue in office without interruption during his convalescence,” he added.
The diagnosis, just weeks before the Nov. 3 election, marks a blow to a president who desperately tries to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them, despite a growing nationwide death toll from over 205,000 and 7 million confirmed infections. And it is the most serious known public health alert encountered by a sitting US president in recent history.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic has become a major flashpoint in his race against Democrat Joe Biden, who has spent much of the summer outside of the election campaign and at his home in Delaware. Biden has since resumed a more active campaign schedule, but with small crowds socially estranged from the virus. Biden also regularly wears a mask in public, something Trump laughed at him during Tuesday night’s debate.
“I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said of Biden. “Every time you see him, he wears a mask. He could talk 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.
There was no immediate comment from the Biden campaign on whether the former vice president had been tested since he appeared on the Trump debate stage or if he was taking additional security protocols.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. Most people only develop mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more serious symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Trump was scheduled to attend a fundraiser at his Washington, DC hotel and hold a political rally in Sanford, Fla. On Friday night. But just after 1 a.m., the White House released a revised schedule with just one event: a phone call on “COVID-19 Support for Vulnerable Seniors.”
Hicks, one of the president’s most trusted and long-standing confidants, began to experience mild symptoms as he flew back from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday night, according to an administration official who requested the anonymity to disclose private information. She was isolated from other passengers on the plane, and her diagnosis was confirmed on Thursday, the person said.
Hicks was with Trump aboard Marine One en route to this rally and accompanied him aboard Air Force One to Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland.
The first lady said in a tweet that she had postponed all future commitments. “Please make sure you stay safe and we will all get through this together,” she wrote.
Trump had always played down concerns about his personal vulnerability to contracting COVID-19, even after White House staff and his allies were exposed and disgusted.
“I did not feel any vulnerability,” he told reporters in May.
Rather, he urged governors to reopen their states and tried to draw the country’s attention to efforts to revive the economy – not a growing death toll – as he runs for a new four-year term. .
The news was sure to shake up an already shaken nation, still struggling with how to safely reopen while avoiding new peaks. The White House has access to almost unlimited resources, including a constant supply of rapid-result tests, and has still failed to keep the president safe, raising questions about how the rest of the country will be able to protect its workers, students and the public as businesses and schools reopen.
Senior executives have been tested daily for COVID-19 since two people who work at the White House complex tested positive in early May, prompting the White House to step up precautions. Anyone who comes into contact with the president also receives a quick result test.
Yet since the early days of the pandemic, experts have questioned health and safety protocols at the White House and questioned why more was not being done to protect the Commander-in-Chief. Trump continued to shake hands with visitors long after public health officials cautioned against it and he initially resisted the test. He has been reluctant to apply his own administration’s social distancing guidelines for fear of appearing weak, including refusing in almost all circumstances to wear a mask in public.
The pandemic has hit world leaders with everyone, previously infecting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent a week in hospital, including three nights in intensive care, where he received medical treatment. oxygen and monitored 24 hours a day by medical workers. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was hospitalized last month as he battled what he called a ‘hellish’ case of coronavirus.
The White House had its first fear of COVID-19 in early March when at least three people who later tested positive approached the president at his private club in Florida.
In mid-March, as the virus continued to spread across the country, the White House began taking the temperature of everyone entering the White House complex, and in April, it began administering rapid COVID-19 tests to anyone near the president, with staff being tested about once a week.
On May 7, the White House announced that a member of the military serving as one of the president’s personal valets had tested positive for the virus, followed a day later by a positive diagnosis for the attaché. Vice President Mike Pence’s press.
Even then, Trump said he was “not worried” about the spread of the virus in the White House. But officials have again tightened security protocols for the complex, requiring anyone entering the West Wing to wear a mask.
By June, concerns at the White House had subsided again, with few staff caring about masks even as more people tested positive for the virus, including campaign staff preparing for a rally in Tulsa, Secret Service agents, Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who works for Trump’s campaign and is dating his eldest son.
While there is currently no evidence that Trump is seriously ill, the positive test raises questions about what would happen if he were to become disabled due to illness. The 25th Amendment to the Constitution sets out the procedures by which a president can declare himself “incapable of discharging the powers and duties” of the presidency. If he were to make that call, Trump would deliver a written note to Senate President pro tempore, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Pence would serve as interim president until Trump issues “a written statement to the contrary.”
The Vice President and a majority of Cabinet or other body established by law may also declare the President incapable of discharging the powers and duties of his office, in which case Pence “would immediately assume the powers and duties of the office. as an interim. President ”until Trump can provide a written statement to the contrary.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.