October 02, 2020 15:44
U.S. President Donald Trump has announced he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus.
President Trump tweeted at 12:54 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Friday (04:54 UTC): "Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"
Eleven minutes later, the White House released a memorandum from the 74-year-old president's physician, Dr. Sean Conley, confirming the positive tests for the Trumps.
"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 said. He added that he expects the president "to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you posted on any future developments."
Melania Trump tweeted at 1:27 a.m.: "As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together."
All of Trump's political events for the near future were quickly ordered canceled, according to a White House official. The news immediately caused U.S. stock futures to plunge and potentially puts Trump's presidential campaign into hiatus, barely a month before the election against former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads in the national polls.
Trump, who for months has played down the seriousness of the coronavirus, on Thursday evening confirmed during a telephone interview on the Fox News Channel that he and the first lady had been tested after one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, was confirmed to be infected.
Hicks, counselor to the president, traveled with Trump to Pennsylvania for a campaign rally on Saturday, then to Cleveland for the presidential debate on Tuesday and to Minnesota for campaign events the following day. Hicks was showing symptoms at a political rally Wednesday evening in Duluth, Minnesota, and tested positive Thursday morning, according to officials who spoke on condition of not being named.
Trump on Thursday, however, along with some top officials flew to New Jersey for a political fundraising event where he was in close contact with dozens of other people.
During the telephone interview with Fox News show host Sean Hannity, the president suggested Hicks could have contracted the virus from members of the military or law enforcement. "It is very, very hard when you are with people from the military, or from law enforcement, and they come over to you, and they want to hug you, and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them," said Trump. "You get close, and things happen. I was surprised to hear with Hope, but she is a very warm person with them. She knows there's a risk, but she is young."
The president, however, in the eighth decade of his life, is in a high-risk category for the coronavirus, but is otherwise believed to be in good health.
Nearly 7.3 million people in the United States have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 207,000 have died -- the most reported by any country.
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