“Tonight @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” the president tweeted just before 1 a.m. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.” We’ll get through this TOGETHER! “
The President’s Doctor, Sean P. Conley, wrote minutes later that Trump and his wife “are fine at this point and plan to stay home at the White House during their recovery.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that the president had “mild symptoms”
The president is expected to hold official and political events at the residence – including calling seniors on Friday about the coronavirus.
The diagnosis is jolting the country’s leadership and some advisors discussed government continuity early Friday should the president’s condition worsen. Vice President Pence tested negative for the virus Friday morning, a spokesman said.
Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel tested positive for the virus on Wednesday but did not announce her diagnosis until after Trump announced he had the virus. McDaniel last saw Trump at a fundraiser on September 25th a week ago.
Others in Trump’s immediate orbit who have tested negative so far include daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, teenage son Barron Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A maskless Meadows told reporters outside the White House that he and White House Assistant Chief of Staff Dan Scavino also tested negative.
Meadows said he expected Trump to recover quickly but would not comment on what treatment the president is receiving.
Trump’s early morning announcement marked an extraordinary turn for the first family, arriving barely more than a month before election day. Trump has stepped up his campaign pace to capture Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who is a leader in national and major state polls. Trump, aides and voters say, is largely due to his handling of the virus, which has dominated voter attention and the economic collapse caused by pandemic shutdowns.
The virus could further challenge Trump’s re-election offer as advisors hoped to fill the void in the coming weeks with an aggressive travel plan and news that the coronavirus had largely passed.
Since late Tuesday, Trump has appeared with thousands at a rally in Minnesota, discussing Biden on stage, and interacting with a group of aides and political advisers in the White House. There was no immediate answer from Biden’s camp as to whether it had been tested.
After White House officials learned of Hick’s symptoms, Trump and his entourage flew to New Jersey Thursday, where he attended a fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club and delivered a speech. Trump was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters, at a roundtable event.
The president did not wear a mask on Thursday, not even at the events on his golf course and on the plane. He was tested after he returned to the White House, but he also appeared on the phone on Sean Hannity’s TV show from the residence.
Two people who spent time with him said he hadn’t shown any noticeable symptoms, despite looking tired and admitting to other aides later Thursday that Hicks was sick. During his fundraiser in New Jersey, “he said the things he normally says on television,” said one attendee.
A senior administration official said the White House was not aware of any more positive cases late Thursday, despite aides being tested and contacts tracked. Some aids are expected to stay at home for the foreseeable future, and presidential and political trips will be canceled, officials said.
The president has publicly urged that the country reopen fully despite persistently high cases, in the hopes that the resulting economic benefits and potential for statewide optimism would increase his election chances. An infected president could raise concerns nationally about the reopening of businesses and schools – both important advances by the president as the disease has spread.
Even as the virus exploded across the country, Trump continued to host large indoor and outdoor events, where mostly maskless crowds came together to greet the president. Some members of the secret service also caught the virus in preparation for president events, the Washington Post reported.
Trump has regularly appeared in public and private without a mask – and ridiculed Biden for wearing one and slowing down his campaign events for security reasons. The president has insisted that the virus is mostly dangerous to the elderly – a group he belongs to – or those with health complications, although medical experts say the virus can affect anyone. Trump has publicly and privately argued with a number of medical experts in his administration over how seriously the White House should take the virus.
During a taped speech at a Catholic charity dinner in New York on Thursday night, Trump adopted his usual optimistic tone about the virus. “And I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight and next year will be one of the greatest years in our country’s history,” he said.
For the past few months, Trump has told others he wasn’t particularly concerned about the virus, officials said after initially showing some fears. Many of Trump’s aides have also avoided masks, both in the west wing offices and while traveling.
For several months, Aides had vowed to be more cautious about Trump, taking the temperature of visitors entering the White House complex, restricting access to the Oval Office, demanding daily tests from people around him and to demand the use of masks in the west wing. But mask use has declined in recent months, officials say, and temperatures haven’t been checked, although people around the president are still being tested. The diagnosis is likely to raise additional concerns about the White House rapid testing system, which is known to have a lower accuracy rate than more intrusive tests.
Participants in events with the vice president and president have not been tested for the virus or need to have their temperatures taken. Early Friday, Pence Trump expressed his condolences.
“Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends, President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump,” he tweeted. “We join millions across America and pray for their full and speedy recovery. God bless you, President Trump, and our wonderful First Lady Melania. “
Later, Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said the vice president tested negative.
“As has been the practice for months, Vice President Pence is being tested for COVID-19 every day,” O’Malley said in a tweet. “This morning Vice President Pence and the Second Lady tested negative for COVID-19. Vice President Pence remains in good health and wishes the Trumps all the best in their recovery. “
Hicks is one of Trump’s closest associates and regularly enters the Oval Office several times a day to meet with the White House and election officials.
She was seen several times without a mask, along with other top helpers.
Hicks traveled with the president to a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, to Cleveland for the first presidential debate on Tuesday, and to another rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. Hicks has been with the president and senior policy advisers extensively over the past few days in preparation for the debate, an official said early Friday.
She was photographed without a mask at the rally in Pennsylvania when she clapped the villagers’ “YMCA” with other Trump aides and in Cleveland on the asphalt of Air Force One.
Her positive test came after she showed symptoms at Wednesday’s rally. A person familiar with the situation said Hicks was quarantined on the return flight from Minnesota.
The 31-year-old Hicks was Trump’s 2016 campaign spokesperson and then White House communications director from the start of his candidacy, before joining Fox News in March 2018. In February she returned to the White House as an adviser to the President.
Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity during a live interview Thursday night that he and the first lady were being tested after learning about Hicks and waiting for the results.
“She tested positive and I just took a test. . . So whether we are under quarantine or whether we have it, I do not know, “said Trump. “So I just did a test and we’ll see what happens. Who knows? . . . We spend a lot of time with Hope so we’ll see what happens. “
Trump later tweeted that he and the first lady were waiting for test results. “In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process.”
Trump also suggested that Hicks might have contracted it from members of the military or law enforcement agencies.
“It’s very, very hard when you’re with people in the military or law enforcement and they come over and want to hug you and kiss you because we did a really good job of them,” the president said. “You get closer and things happen. I was surprised to hear from Hope, but she is a very warm person with them. She knows there is a risk, but she is young. “
Following Hicks’ diagnosis, White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president was taking the matter “seriously.”
“The president takes the health and safety of himself and those who work for him and the American people very seriously,” said Deere. “White House Operations are working with the President’s Doctor and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidelines and best practices to address COVID-19 exposure on both complex and complex.” limit as much as possible on the President’s travels. ”
Hicks is the oldest White House adviser known to test positive for the virus. Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller caught the virus in May, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser of Trump and friend of the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., caught the virus in July. Before Hicks, the oldest White House security officer to test positive was National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien in late July.
The White House administers daily coronavirus tests for aid workers, reporters, and anyone else who comes in contact with the president. However, public health experts warn that they are not foolproof and that masks and social distancing are still the best protection against the virus.
During the debate on Tuesday, Trump was urged to insist on major campaign events where no one has to wear face coverings or socialize.
“We had no ill effects and we had 35 to 40,000 people at some of these rallies,” Trump said.
Biden retorted, “He was completely irresponsible in the way he handled social distancing and people who wear masks basically encouraged them not to. He’s a fool. “
Trump replied, “If you could get the crowd, you would have done the same. But you can’t. Nobody cares.”