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 tweeted.
Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, said the 74-year-old “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.”
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.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) October 2, 2020
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 told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday that he and the first lady, 50, were tested once 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 500 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 — where his family was seen not wearing masks in the audience — and he also 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 first lady, and that “America stands united.”
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.
Trump in May announced that he had taken a two-week course of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he had promoted as a preventative or curative treatment. The FDA later pulled emergency authorization for the drug to treat hospitalized patients, saying it carried too many risks without any apparent benefit.
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.
Trump is not the only world leader to test 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 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 then positive for Covid-19 later that month, days after the Brazilian president said he had overcome the illness and tested negative.