President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced on Twitter early Friday.
“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, 74, tweeted.
Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, said, “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.”
The announcement immediately throws into question the nature of the remaining 32 days of the campaign, including the remaining two presidential debates. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.
Trump, who has been accused of downplaying the risk and severity of the coronavirus pandemic, even mocked Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s regular use of masks during Tuesday’s debate.
“The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions,” Conley said. “Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”
Melania Trump tweeted: “We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.”
Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest senior advisers, tested positive for the virus Thursday, making her the highest-profile member of the administration to have contracted the virus who is in frequent contact with Trump and other top officials.
Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday that he and the first lady, 50, were tested once Hicks tested positive, and he later tweeted that they were starting the “quarantine process.”
Stock futures plunged in early Friday trading after the announcement. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted over 500 points.
The president has held campaign rallies around the country for months, many of which are outdoors but some of which have been indoors. The most recent one was Wednesday night in Minnesota — where his family was seen not wearing masks in the audience — and he traveled to New Jersey on Thursday for a fundraiser.
A scheduled rally in Orlando, Florida, on Friday was canceled.
“This was avoidable,” said NBC News contributor Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert. “This did not have to happen if they were practicing the proper procedures and not going to these rallies and having these chaotic events where, of course, airborne exposure was going to happen, even if it was at an outdoor setting,”
“No masking, no distancing — what did they expect was going to happen?” Gupta said.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he and his wife, Karen, “send our love and prayers” to Trump and the first lady.
“We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery,” Pence wrote.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that “the strength of the entire country” was with the president and the first lady and that “America stands united.”
Hicks, along with several other top White House and campaign advisers, traveled with the president to Cleveland for Tuesday’s debate.
The president has drawn sharp criticism for his handling of the pandemic and his administration has also sowed confusion over wearing masks to slow the spread of Covid-19. Public health experts have said the mixed messaging hampered the country’s response to the pandemic and even led to preventable deaths.
After months of public condemnation, the president tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask, writing in July, “many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance.” Then, in August, Trump urged Americans to cover their faces in public as a “patriotic” thing to do.
The president has insisted that he “didn’t lie” to the American public about the severity of coronavirus, despite having told veteran journalist Bob Woodward in March that he had been intentionally downplaying the virus’s potential impact.
“What I said is we have to be calm. We can’t be panicked,” Trump told reporters last month after being pressed about his coronavirus response.
Trump announced in May that he had taken a two-week course of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he had promoted as a preventive or curative treatment. The Food and Drug Administration later pulled emergency authorization to use the drug to treat hospitalized patients, saying it carried too many risks without any apparent benefit.
After a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain tested positive for the virus; he later died. At the same rally, about eight White House staffers, including Secret Service personnel, tested positive. One of the president’s personal valets, who works in the West Wing serving him his meals, among other duties, tested positive in May.
U.S. health officials continue to monitor for coronavirus cases in the United States. As of Thursday, more than 7 million cases had been confirmed in the U.S., based on NBC News’ count. There have been more than 205,000 deaths.
The risk of a severe illness increases with age and other factors, and other medical conditions can also increase risk, including obesity, according to the CDC.
Trump’s weight was put at 244 pounds in a summary of the president’s physical examination that was released in June, and his physician said he was healthy. The examinations were done last year. Trump has been said to be 6-foot-3. Based on that height and weight, Trump is considered obese, according to the CDC’s body mass index calculator.
Trump is not the only world leader to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson caught the disease in March and was hospitalized, ending up in intensive care. He revealed in May that doctors prepared to announce his death as he battled the illness, and he said that when he tested positive, he was “in denial” and kept working.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for Covid-19 in July. Bolsonaro for months downplayed the severity of the disease.
Bolsonaro’s wife and one of his ministers tested positive for Covid-19 later that month, days after Bolsonaro said he had overcome the illness and tested negative.