The diagnosis poses the most serious known health threat to a seated American president in decades. At 74 years of age and obese, Trump falls into the highest risk category of serious complications from the disease, affecting more than 200,000 Americans and more than 1 million people worldwide were killed.
His infection with the disease could prove destabilizing in an already tense political climate, and stock market futures fell on news of Trump’s infection.
“Tonight @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will make it through TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted just before 1 a.m. on Friday.
The first lady later wrote on Twitter that she and her husband are “feeling good”
Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon and returned to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey. He did not appear to be sick, although he did not speak to reporters when he entered his apartment.
In a memo to reporters at around 1 a.m., the President’s Doctor, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley wrote that he received confirmation of positive tests on Thursday evening.
“The President and First Lady are fine at this point and they plan to stay home at the White House during their recovery,” Conley wrote.
“The White House medical team and I will be vigilant, and I appreciate the support of some of the greatest medical professionals and institutions in our country,” wrote Conley, without delving into what support the White House has been given.
“Please rest assured, I expect the president to continue performing his duties uninterruptedly during recovery and I will keep you informed of further developments,” he wrote.
The president had said late Thursday night that he was planning to quarantine after one of his closest associates, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the infection and brought the disease into his innermost circle. Earlier that night he had downplayed the continued spread of the virus.
“The end of the pandemic is in sight,” he said during taped remarks at Al Smith’s annual dinner, held practically over the health crisis.
While the White House frequently announces its extensive testing program for the President and those who come near it – aides have named him “the most tested man in the country” – the infections underscored the shortcomings of relying on testing alone Prevent infection.
Trump and many of his aides have avoided practices such as social distancing and the wearing of masks. During the presidential debate on Tuesday evening, the president mocked his rival, Democratic candidate Joe Biden, for often wearing a mask.
After announcing the president’s diagnosis, the White House issued a new schedule to reflect several canceled events on Friday, including a fundraiser in Washington and a rally in Florida.
The scrubbed plans were the most immediate impact of the president’s diagnosis on the presidential campaign, which mainly focused on the pandemic and the president’s response to it. Trump has tried many times to paint a rosy picture of the current situation, even hours before announcing his diagnosis.
Trump has also repeatedly insisted that the country go “around the corner” on the disease, claiming the virus will “go away”, despite even health experts in his own administration saying these claims do not reflect reality.
Infecting yourself with coronavirus will do little to further his claims that the disease is decreasing and undermine his drive for states to reopen schools and businesses. Trump has complained during recent rallies about Democratic governors who have maintained tight lockdowns to prevent the virus from spreading.
Trump has blatantly disregarded the medical recommendations of his own coronavirus task force during the pandemic and created a busy schedule of crowded campaign rallies. Most recently, its supporters have held events in Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
These events are suspended for the time being as the President remains in the White House. Long informed about his medical history, the President showed that he weighed 243 pounds – considered obese for his height. Even so, Conley said he was in “very good health” on a reading of the exam.
Trump previously voiced his concern that aid workers contracting the coronavirus would undermine his message that the outbreak is subsiding and that states should speed up reopening, according to one person who spoke to him.
And in the spring he asked how it was possible that one of his servants – who is responsible for dealing with food and drink – had come into contact with him.
The White House has since gone to great lengths to protect Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from the outbreak, even as they travel to states where cases are increasing.
Close aide tests positive
Hicks has traveled with the President several times lately, including to the Cleveland debate on Tuesday, and was seen wearing masks aboard Marine One along with several of the President’s closest aides – Jared Kushner, Dan Scavino and Nicholas Luna – on Wednesday when Trump went to a campaign rally in Minnesota.
Trump speculated in his interview with Fox News that Hicks could have infected the virus through an interaction with a supporter.
“She’s a very warm person. She’s having a hard time when soldiers and law enforcement come up to her, you know, she wants to treat her great and not say, ‘Stay away, I can’t get near you.’ It’s a very, very serious disease, “he said.
A source close to Hicks told CNN that she had symptoms and was back in Washington. A source familiar with Hicks’ symptoms describes them as painful and quite bad. CNN asked Hicks for a comment.
“The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who stands up for him and the American people very seriously,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNN in a statement when he asked about the level of contact between Hicks and Trump was asked.
The White House did not mention Hicks by name or confirm that she had tested positive.
“White House Operations are working with the President’s Doctor and the White House Military Office to ensure that all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidelines and best practices to address COVID-19 exposure on both complex and complex levels limit as much as possible on the president’s travel, “added Deere.
Some White House employees who were in close proximity were informed of the positive test result today, an official said.
This story was updated with further developments on Friday morning.
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.