President Donald Trump has tested positive for Covid-19, upending the already chaotic US election, but was described by his doctor on Friday as feeling “well” and able to perform his duties while quarantining.
Trump first announced on Twitter that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus.
“We will get through this TOGETHER!” he wrote.
But the extraordinary setback for Trump had immediate political consequences just 32 days before election day.
His challenger, Democrat Joe Biden, is well ahead in the polls and is making criticism of the Republican’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic a key plank in his campaign.
Trump, in response, has been betting on an evermore aggressive schedule of campaign rallies around the country — bringing together thousands of people, often without masks.
Early Friday the White House canceled his planned campaign rally in the crucial swing state of Florida later in the day.
It also looked certain that Trump would have to cancel a trip scheduled for this weekend in Wisconsin, another battleground. He had also been expected to travel frequently next week, including longer distances to western states.
A second televised debate with Biden is scheduled for October 15.
Trump’s official physician, Sean Conley, said in a statement that the president and his wife “are both well at this time and they plan to remain home at the White House during their convalescence.”
Conley said: “I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
The shock news came right after one of Trump’s closest advisors, Hope Hicks, was reported Thursday to have come down with the virus.
Hicks traveled with Trump to Cleveland for his first debate with Biden on Tuesday. She was with him again for a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday.
With Hicks sharing Trump’s Air Force One plane and the even more cramped confines of the Marine One helicopter, speculation immediately erupted that Trump and possibly many others in his close entourage were exposed.
Despite Hicks’ diagnosis, Trump took another Air Force One trip on Thursday to meet with donors in New Jersey.
It was only late Thursday that Trump confirmed media reports about Hicks while giving an interview to Fox News. He announced that he had been tested but did not say whether he had received the results.
“You know I spend a lot of time with Hope, and so does the first lady,” Trump said.
Trump says the United States has put behind the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans, and he rarely wears a mask, noting that he receives frequent testing.
However, his own health experts have often given less rosy assessments of the state of the pandemic in the world’s richest country.
And Trump has been sharply criticised for the large rallies where few supporters wear masks. He himself has given mixed signals to the public on the need for wearing masks at all.
By contrast, Biden has run a low key campaign with social distancing at most events, no large gatherings, and conspicuous use of his mask wherever he goes.
White House spokesman Judd Deere earlier said “the president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.”
Deere said the White House takes care to follow procedures “for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is traveling.”
Trump’s most notable quotes on the coronavirus
After months of playing down its significance, refusing to wear a mask and holding large campaign rallies as the coronavirus spreads across the United States, US President Donald Trump has tested positive for Covid-19.
Here are some of Trump’s most notable and colourful statements on the illness.
January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
February 7: “It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu… This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Bob Woodward in quotes only released on September 9 ahead of the publication of the veteran US journalist’s new book.
February 26: “This is a flu. This is like a flu.”
February 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.” (on scientific research for treatments)
March 11: “The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States.”
March 14: “I’d rate it a 10,” (on his coronavirus response).
March 17: “I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic… I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”
March 22: “I’m a little upset with China, I’ll be honest with you.”
April 3: “I’m feeling good. I just don’t want to be doing — somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just don’t. Maybe I’ll change my mind.”
April 24: “Then I see the disinfectant which knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside for almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that.”
“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said, that hasn’t been checked but you’re gonna test it. And then I said, supposing it brought the light inside the body, which you can either do either through the skin or some other way.”
April 30: “I think that the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves, because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”
May 19: “When we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing, I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing… Because it means our testing is much better. I view it as a badge of honour, really, it’s a badge of honour.”
July 28: “I happen to believe in it. I would take it. As you know, I took it for a 14-day period. And as you know, I’m here. I happen to think it works in the early stages.” (on hydroxychloroquine)
September 22: “We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world, China… the Chinese government, and the World Health Organization — which is virtually controlled by China — falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.”
October 2: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!.”
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