President Trump and the first lady have tested positive for Covid-19, putting the incumbent in indefinite quarantine just a month before the 2020 election. The president is currently experiencing “mild” symptoms; Vice President Mike Pence has tested negative.
Trump tweeted the news late Thursday night. “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” the president wrote. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
On Friday morning, a spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence said he and the Second Lady tested negative for the virus.
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
Shortly after Trump’s tweet, Sean Conley, the president’s physician, released a memo confirming the test results, noting that Trump and the first lady are “both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
“The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions,” Conley added. “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.”
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) October 2, 2020
The first lady weighed in minutes later: “As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.”
As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.
It’s unclear to what extent the positive test will affect the president’s work and campaign schedules. A fundraising event and a rally in Orlando planned for Friday have both been canceled. The president is still slated to “host a phone call on COVID-19 support to vulnerable seniors,” according to a schedule the White House released following the news of the positive test. The second presidential debate is currently scheduled to take place on October 15th, 13 days after the positive test result.
Trump’s bombshell tweet on Thursday came hours after news broke that White House adviser Hope Hicks contracted the virus. As CNN’s Kaitlin Collins noted, the White House did not publicly announce that Hicks tested positive despite having the opportunity to do so during a press briefing. According to the Washington Post, the White House knew Hicks was experiencing symptoms prior to the president traveling to New Jersey to attend a fundraiser and deliver a speech on Thursday. Trump, who had been in contact with Hicks, interacted with dozens of people at the event.
After the news of Hicks’ positive test broke, Trump tweeted that he and Melania were awaiting their own test results and were preparing to quarantine. “Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible!” Trump wrote Thursday evening. “The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!”
The results came in two hours later. The president and the first lady are now among the over 7.3 million Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
There is no small measure of dark irony in the president contracting the disease. From the beginning of the outbreak, Trump has actively downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic that has now killed more than 200,000 Americans. An academic study published Thursday describes Trump as the single largest driver of misinformation about the pandemic.
Trump has frequently hypothesized that the pandemic will simply “go away” on its own, while hyping unproven and even dangerous treatments for the illness. The president he has long expressed skepticism over the wearing of face masks as protection against the spread of the virus, even as he’s held indoor rallies that have proved deadly to attendees. As recently as late September Trump insisted that the virus “affects virtually nobody,” while calling for the opening of schools.
In the presidential debate on Tuesday of this week, Trump mocked Joe Biden for habitually wearing a mask: “I don’t wear a mask like him,” Trump said. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Biden recounted that that the head of the CDC has told Americans that universal mask wearing could save 100,000 lives by the end of the year, to which Trump retorted: “And they’ve also said the opposite.”
Biden — who is negative for Covid-19 after being tested for the virus as a precaution — has tweeted his prayers for the Trumps’ “health and safety” as well as “a swift recovery.”
Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 2, 2020
This is a developing story.