U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the novel coronavirus just days after one of his closest advisers who also had COVID-19 travelled with him aboard Air Force One.
A White House official said Trump is experiencing “mild” symptoms, according to the Associated Press.
Trump announced the diagnosis in a tweet:
In a statement dated Oct. 1, 2020, Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, confirmed the diagnosis.
“The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” Conley stated.
He also claimed Trump would continue to “carry out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
Trump cancelled his plans to travel to a rally in Florida on Friday but kept a midday phone call with “vulnerable seniors” about COVID-19 support on his schedule.
Trump, who is 74 and is considered obese, according to an assessment in June by the White House physician, faces an increased risk of severe illness from the coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long warned that older adults and those with a body mass index of 30 or above are at increased risk of hospitalization and possibly the need for intensive care should they become infected.
Hope Hicks, a counsellor and senior adviser to the president, tested positive for COVID-19 after travelling with Trump on Tuesday for his first U.S. presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Trump’s infection also comes after many of his family members attended the debate in Ohio without wearing masks, even after a Cleveland Clinic doctor asked barefaced members of the audience to put them on.
At the debate, Trump also mocked Biden’s wearing of masks at campaign events while falsely claiming there had been “no negative effect” from any of his large campaign rallies in recent weeks. (After a June 20 rally in Oklahoma, health officials cited it as the “likely” source of a surge in local cases.)
“He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said of Biden’s use of face coverings and his decision not to hold large in-person campaign events.
The first lady announced her diagnosis in a tweet early Friday:
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence tweeted that he and his wife, Karen, send their “love and prayers” to the Trumps.
On Friday morning, Pence’s press secretary tweeted that the vice-president and second lady had tested negative for COVID-19.
Also on Friday, former U.S. vice-president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden issued a statement on Trump’s positive diagnosis.
Biden’s statement came minutes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his words of support for the U.S. president.
The president’s infection comes amid his ongoing efforts to declare that the nation has largely moved past the worst threats of the pandemic and could reopen large swaths of the economy, a positive election season message that health experts have warned could not be further from reality.
More than 207,000 people in the U.S. have now died of the coronavirus, and more than 7.3 million have been infected. Cases remain high or are rising in more than a dozen states even after an economically devastating shutdown period in nearly every corner of the country.
With files from Liza Hearon, Jade Walker and HuffPost Canada.