President Trump, First Lady test positive for COVID-19, begin quarantine

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both tested positive for COVID-19 after top adviser Hope Hicks came down with the illness, the president tweeted early Friday morning.

“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” the president tweeted. “We will get through this together.”

Sean P. Conley, physician to the president, confirmed the diagnoses in a statement released by the White House press office.

“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 in the statement. “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 institutions. 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.”

Later, First Lady Melania Trump tweeted that she and the president are thus far “feeling good.”

“We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together,” she stated.

On Thursday night, President Trump tweeted that he and the first lady would begin the “quarantine process” after Hicks became symptomatic and tested positive for COVID-19. She travels regularly with the president on Air Force One and, along with other senior aides, accompanied him to Ohio for the presidential debate on Tuesday with former Vice President Joe Biden, and to Minnesota for a campaign event on Wednesday.

“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” Trump said in a tweet.

The president, who is tested regularly for COVID-19, has kept up a rigorous travel schedule across the country in recent weeks, holding rallies with thousands of people in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election, despite warnings from public health professionals against having events with large crowds.

Hicks’ positive test raises the possibility that others within Trump‘s immediate circle and at the highest levels of the U.S. government may have been exposed and have to quarantine as well.

Prior to his diagnosis Thursday, Trump had attended a private fundraiser at his Bedminster country club in New Jersey and called into Sean Hannity’s Fox News program in the evening. He also made a pre-recorded statement to the Al Smith Dinner, held virtually this year.

Trump has come under sharp criticism for his response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States alone. The president has touted his management of the crisis.

Biden has lambasted Trump for not having a clear national plan to tackle the pandemic. Biden, a former vice president, regularly wears a mask and has eschewed campaign events with large crowds. He is leading Trump in national polls.

Trump and his staff regularly do not wear masks, and Trump has denigrated people who wear them often. Health professionals say mask-wearing is one of the key things people can do to help prevent the spread of the virus.

At the White House, people who are around Trump, including some reporters, get tested on a regular basis.

But the White House did away with daily temperature checks for everyone who enters the complex months ago, and people who are tested for the virus interact with others in the White House campus who are not.

The White House said in a statement that Trump “takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously” and that it followed guidelines for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible.

Trump said he was surprised that Hicks had tested positive.

“She knows there’s a risk, but she’s young,” he said on Fox News.

Hicks returned to the White House earlier this year after a stint in the private sector. She served previously as White House communications director and as a spokeswoman for Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign.

More from Around New York