Trump’s positive test comes just hours after the White House announced that senior aide Hope Hicks came down with the virus after travelling with the president several times this week.
Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has now killed more than 200,000 people nationwide.
“Tonight, (at)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 early on Friday.
Trump announced late Thursday that he and first lady Melania Trump were beginning a “quarantine process” after Hicks came down with the virus, though it wasn’t clear what that entailed. It can take days for an infection to be detectable by a test.
The diagnosis marks a major blow for a president who has been trying desperately to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them even as cases continue to rise with less than four months before Election Day.
And it stands as the most serious known public health scare encountered by any sitting American president in recent history.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble.
Most people develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity Thursday, Trump said he was awaiting results of a COVID-19 test. “Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” he said, adding that first lady Melania Trump was also awaiting results.
Hicks travelled with the president multiple times this week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday, and aboard Air Force One to Tuesday night’s first presidential debate in Cleveland.
Trump had consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, even after White House staff and allies were exposed and sickened.
“I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he said told reporters back in May.
He has instead encouraged governors to reopen their states and tried to focus the nation’s attention on efforts to revive the economy – not a growing death toll – as he seeks another four-year term.
Some studies suggest COVID-19 patients who are obese may be at higher risk of being seriously sickened by the virus. In his 2019 physical, Trump met the technical threshold for obesity.
Trump, the vice president and other senior staff have been tested for COVID-19 daily since two people who work at the White House complex tested positive in early May.
Everyone who comes into contact with the president also receives a quick-result test.
But Trump continued to shake hands with visitors long after public health officials were warning against it and he initially resisted being tested.
He has been reluctant to practise his own administration’s social distancing guidelines for fear of looking weak, including refusing under almost all circumstances to wear a mask in public.
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