John Fritze USA TODAY – 2-10-20
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning development that came hours after he confirmed one of his longest-serving aides with whom he had recently traveled also received a positive test result.
The revelation had implications for the president’s health, the administration’s response to the pandemic and also the Nov. 3 election, during which Trump has leaned on states to reopen and has claimed that the nation is “turning the corner” on the virus.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” Trump tweeted early Friday morning. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
The president has often claimed the U.S. has the pandemic “under control,” but his own positive test result – assuming it is accurate – is certain to raise questions about the reopening of schools and businesses when the virus could not be contained within the White House, arguably the most secure facility in the world.
Trump, 74, was the latest world leader to test positive for COIVD-19. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major leader in March. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fell ill in July and had a series of positive tests. Both men recovered.
The president’s positive test is certain to become wrapped up in his own efforts to downplay the seriousness of the disease for months while holding rallies, fundraisers and other campaign events across the country, including in virus hot spots.
White House physician Sean Conley confirmed the positive test result in a memo released by the White House shortly after the president’s tweet. Conley said both were “well at this time” and that they planned to “remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
Conley said he and his team would “maintain a vigilant watch.” “Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering,” Conley said.
The president repeatedly asserted the U.S. outperformed other nations in confronting the disease, despite having the highest number of cases and deaths in the world. More than 200,000 Americans have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Trump has dismissed concerns about those large campaign events, of which he has hosted more than a dozen this month alone. He has also downplayed the importance of a face covering for himself, noting that he is regularly tested at the White House.
“Well, so far we have had no problem whatsoever,” Trump said of the rallies during his debate Tuesday with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “It’s outside – that’s a big difference according to the experts. And we do them outside, we have tremendous crowds, as you see.”
Hope Hicks, one of the president’s longest serving aides, accompanied Trump to one of those rallies this week, an event in Minnesota. She traveled with the president and several of his senior aides within the small confines of Marine One on Wednesday. A day later, Trump confirmed that Hicks had tested positive for the virus.
It’s not clear whether Trump contracted the virus from Hicks, but Trump told Fox News late Thursday that he and first lady Melania Trump were receiving a test and said he would begin a period of quarantine. At that time, it was not clear how or even whether Trump intended to curtail public events he had planned for the rest of the week.
“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible!” Trump tweeted Thursday. “The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!”
Several White House aides have tested positive in the past, including a top spokeswoman to Vice President Mike Pence, a Navy valet who was in the same room as the president on the day the person began experiencing symptoms.
No one is safe from chicom bat pox. I wish them both a swift recovery. What a lousy time to get this damn thing. I would imagine that they will both be injected with remdesivir as a precaution. Most people who test positive are asymptomatic, so I hope and expect they’ll be fine.