WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, just a month before the presidential election and after having spent much of the last year largely downplaying the threat of the virus.
Trump’s positive test came just hours after he confirmed that senior aide Hope Hicks, who had traveled with him several times this week, had come down with the virus. Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House on Thursday evening and looked to be in good health. Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has now killed more than 205,000 people nationwide.
“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.
In a memorandum, the president’s physician said that Trump and the first lady, who is 50, “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,” he added.
The diagnosis, just weeks before the Nov. 3 election, marks a major blow for a president who has been trying desperately to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them, despite a growing nationwide death toll of more than 205,000 and 7 million confirmed infections. And it stands as the most serious known public health scare encountered by any sitting American president in recent history.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic has become a major flashpoint in his race against Democrat Joe Biden, who spent much of the summer off the campaign trail and at his home in Delaware. Biden has since resumed a more active campaign schedule, but with small, socially distanced crowds because of the virus. Biden also regularly wears a mask in public, something Trump mocked him for at Tuesday night’s debate.
“I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said of Biden. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”