President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus, the president announced early Friday.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” he tweeted. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!“
He made the announcement shortly after news broke that Hope Hicks, one of his top aides, had tested positive.
Hicks, a counselor to the president, had traveled with Trump on Tuesday for his debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden in Cleveland. She was seen traveling on Air Force One without a mask. She also traveled with the president during his rally in Minnesota on Wednesday.
Trump said during a Thursday night interview with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity that he and first lady Melania Trump had been tested for the virus after expressing sympathy for Hicks.
“We‘ll see what happens, but who knows?“ Trump said.
Trump‘s announcement comes only 32 days before Election Day. If it does lead to the cancellation of in-person campaign events, it would be a serious departure from the campaign‘s resumption of signature rallies. The president paused the rallies last spring as the coronavirus began spreading in the U.S.
Hicks is one of the most senior aides to the president to have tested positive for the virus. National security adviser Robert O’Brien tested positive for the virus in July, as did a number of Secret Service agents. Katie Miller, a spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive in May, and a Brazilian dinner companion of the president tested positive back in March.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement on Thursday night: “White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling.“
“The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,“ the statement said.
During his Fox News interview, Trump said members of the military and law enforcement often want to “hug you and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them.“ Trump said that it‘s hard to turn them down and that Hicks often receives them warmly.
Prior to her current role, Hicks served as White House communications director and on the 2016 Trump campaign’s press team. Bloomberg News first reported Hicks‘ test results.
Hicks‘ diagnosis is likely to amplify criticism against Trump for his cavalier approach toward coronavirus precautions. His campaign rallies often feature large crowds of supporters tightly packed together, many without masks. He has also resumed indoor campaign events, even though health officials advise against crowded enclosed spaces. During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, a legion of supporters gathered on the White House grounds, many without masks.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said over the summer that the president was tested frequently for the virus. White House staffers were also notified in August that they would subject to random coronavirus screenings.
David Lim contributed to this report.
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