WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said early Friday he and First Lady Melania had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“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. The White House canceled his planned campaign rally in the crucial swing state of Florida on Friday.
Just 32 days before the November 3 election against Democrat Joe Biden and behind in the polls, it also looked certain that Trump would have to cancel a slew of other trips scheduled for this weekend and next week.
Trump’s official physician, Sean Conley, said in a statement that the president and his wife “are both well at this time and they plan to remain home at the White House during their convalescence.”
Conley said: “I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.” The shock news came right after one of Trump’s closest advisors, Hope Hicks, was reported Thursday to have come down with the virus.
Hicks traveled with Trump to Cleveland for his first debate with Biden on Tuesday. She was with him again for a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday.
With Hicks sharing Trump’s Air Force One plane and the even more cramped confines of the Marine One helicopter, speculation immediately erupted that Trump and possibly many others in his close entourage were exposed.
Trump was giving an interview on Fox News late Thursday when he confirmed the Hicks news and said he had been tested.
“You know I spend a lot of time with Hope, and so does the first lady,” Trump said.
Trump says the United States has put behind the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans, and he rarely wears a mask, noting that he receives frequent testing.
However, his own health experts have often given less rosy assessments of the state of the pandemic in the world’s richest country.
And Trump has been sharply criticized for holding large rallies where few supporters wear masks. He himself has given mixed signals to the public on the need for wearing masks at all.
White House spokesman Judd Deere earlier said “the president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.”
Deere said the White House takes care to follow procedures “for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is traveling.”