In the early hours of Friday morning, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19.
On Thursday, news broke that one of Trump’s closest advisers, Hope Hicks, had tested positive for COVID-19 after being in close contact with the president. According to the New York Times:
[Hicks] traveled with Mr. Trump to the presidential debate in Ohio on Tuesday and accompanied him aboard Air Force One to Minnesota for a campaign rally on Wednesday night.
In response to Hicks’ positive test, Trump had tweeted that he would be quarantining for 14 days:
In a phone-in appearance on Fox News on Thursday night, Trump had suggested that Hicks might have contracted the disease from military personnel.
“She’s a very warm person,” Trump told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “When soldiers and law enforcement come up to her,” he said, she greets them.
Shortly after Trump’s announcement that he and Melania had tested positive themselves, the first lady tweeted:
Trump, who is 74, had been holding regular indoor and outdoor rallies in the final weeks of the presidential campaign. Now that he’s tested positive, though, it is unclear how he will spend the remaining 4½ weeks until Election Day, though the implication of the quarantine is that he will indefinitely halt his public appearances. The presidential physician, Sean P. Conley, confirmed the positive test in a statement, saying, “I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
Trump had been scheduled to appear over the weekend at “Make America Great Again” events in Janesville, Wisconsin, and Green Bay, Wisconsin. That state is critical to Trump’s Electoral College prospects, and it is also currently undergoing one of the worst COVID-19 spikes in the country. Trump has trailed in recent national polling averages by more than 7 points.
More than 200,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 since March. In July, Trump supporter Herman Cain died a little over a month after attending a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an event that public health officials had warned the campaign against holding. Several attendees tested positive for COVID-19 afterward. During Tuesday’s presidential debate, Trump mocked challenger Joe Biden for constantly wearing a mask. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,” Trump said.
The next in line of presidential succession is Vice President Mike Pence, and after him is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In May, Trump claimed to be taking a preventative regimen of a malaria medication that has no proven effect against COVID-19. Earlier on Thursday during the Al Smith Dinner, Trump said: “I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight.”