October 5, 2020
President Donald Trump— who called the coronavirus “a hoax” in its early stages ,and predicted that it would “just go away,” instead of taking substantial measures to counteract it—has now become the world’s highest-profile patient of a disease that has killed more than one million people, Politico reports.
His wife, FLOTUS Melania Trump also has tested positive.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows revealed on October 2 that Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms” after contracting the coronavirus; and refused to say whether he intentionally withheld information about Hope Hicks, a top aide to the president also testing positive in recent days.
The remarks from the president’s most senior staffer came after Trump announced on Twitter early on Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had become infected 32 days ahead of the November election.
“The president does have mild symptoms. And as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the American people,” Meadows told a pool of reporters October 2 outside the White House.
The president and the first lady “remain in good spirits,” Meadows said, and Trump is “very energetic.” Physicians with the White House medical unit “continue to monitor both his health and the health of the first lady,” Meadows said.
Trump had tweeted early Friday that he and the first lady “will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.” Physician to the president Sean Conley wrote in a memo that the president and the first lady were “both well,” and that Trump would “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
Conley did not mention whether Trump was exhibiting any symptoms, but a person familiar with the situation said the president was not showing symptoms yet on Thursday.
Still, Vice President Mike Pence may need to step in for some tasks if Trump is confined to the White House grounds, the person said. Pence’s office said Friday that he and second lady Karen Pence had tested negative for COVID-19.
According to Politico, “The president’s positive test threatens to transform the final month of a volatile campaign that Trump had long intended to frame around a message of success in defeating the virus—despite surging case counts in parts of the country, shuttered schools and businesses and widespread division about the seriousness of the threat.
“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 the history of our country,” Trump said Thursday evening in a videotaped message to the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.
Compounding the uncertainty surrounding the final stretch of the campaign, the Republican National Committee announced Friday that its chair, Ronna McDaniel, also had tested positive for COVID-19.
McDaniel’s diagnosis means that not only Republicans’ presidential nominee, but also their top party official could be constrained to a limited schedule in the coming weeks.
Trump’s announcement raised a slew of questions about whether the 74-year-old’s existing health conditions — his latest physician’s report recorded him as just over the line between overweight and obese — will put him at an increased risk of developing serious complications from the coronavirus.
Melania Trump, 50, also falls within an age range with high risk of complications. The virus can have wide-ranging impact on different people, even at advanced age, from relatively mild symptoms to devastating breathing problems.
Hicks showed symptoms and got her test result early Thursday, but few people in the White House knew about it until later in the afternoon, according to the person familiar with the situation.
Still, business at the White House continued as usual, Politico said. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a briefing in the late morning, and in the afternoon the president flew to his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for a fundraising roundtable and reception with high-dollar donors.
Pressed Friday on when he found out about Hicks testing positive—and whether he sat on the news of her diagnosis until after Trump’s fundraiser—Meadows told reporters he was “not going to get into the tick-tock” of events.
“I can tell you, in terms of Hope Hicks we discovered that right as Marine One was taking off yesterday,” Meadows said. “We actually pulled some of the people that had been traveling and in close contact.”
Biden has now tested negative, as has his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. At this week’s debate, Trump even mocked Biden for wearing masks so often. “I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from ‘em and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Trump stood only feet away from Biden at the Tuesday debate—where multiple members of Trump’s entourage declined to wear masks, despite requests from the staff hosting the event.
Research contact: @politico