By Dartunorro Clark and Phil Helsel
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!” he 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 31 days of the campaign, including the remaining two presidential debates. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.
“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.”
Melanie 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 on Thursday, making her the highest-profile member of the administration to contract the virus who is in frequent contact with Trump and other top officials.
Trump, 74, told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday after Hicks’ positive test that he and the first lady, 50, were tested after Hicks tested positive and later tweeted they were starting the “quarantine process.”
Stock futures plunged in early Friday morning trading after the announcement. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted over 400 points.
The president has held campaign rallies around the country for months, many of which are outdoors but some have been indoors. The most recent one was Wednesday night in Minnesota and he also traveled to New Jersey on Thursday for a fundraiser.
A scheduled rally in Orlando, Florida, on Friday was canceled.
Hicks along with several top White House and campaign advisers traveled with the president to Cleveland for Tuesday’s debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The president has drawn sharp criticism for his handling of the pandemic and downplaying its threat.
Also, his administration has sowed confusion over wearing a mask to slow the spread of Covid-19 and public health experts have said this mixed messaging hampered the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and even led to preventable deaths.
After months of public criticism, 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 he “didn’t lie” to the American public about the severity of coronavirus, despite having told veteran journalist Bob Woodward in March that he’d 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 in September after being pressed on his coronavirus response.
After a Trump rally in Tulsa in June, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain tested positive for the virus and later died. At that same rally, roughly eight White House staffers, including Secret Service personnel, tested positive for the virus. One of President Trump’s personal valets, who works in the West Wing serving the president his meals, among other duties, tested positive for the coronavirus in May.
U.S. health officials continue to monitor for coronavirus cases in the United States. As of Oct. 1, more than 7 million cases have been confirmed in the U.S., based on NBC News’ count. There have been more than 205,000 deaths.