President Donald Trump is experiencing “mild symptoms” after he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19, a White House official told NBC News Friday.
Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, had earlier said in a letter issued after Trump’s diagnosis that the Trumps were “both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
Trump, who is 74, announced on Twitter early Friday morning that he and the first lady had tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus and would “begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.”
The announcement immediately threw into question the nature of the remaining 32 days of the campaign, including the remaining two presidential debates. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.
A White House official told NBC News that there are discussions underway within the White House about whether Trump will address the American public in some form. No final decision has been made, the official said. The official added that Trump is “in good spirits” and is conducting “business as usual” and has already spoken to chief of staff Mark Meadows by phone Friday.
Barron Trump, the Trumps’ 14-year-old son, has tested negative for the virus, Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham told NBC News, adding that “all precautions are being taken to ensure he’s kept safe and healthy.”
White House official Carolina Hurley tweeted Friday morning that the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, both tested negative for Covid-19 on Friday.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tested positive for the virus on Wednesday “after a member of her family tested positive,” an RNC spokesman told NBC News. The spokesman added that McDaniel “has been at her home in Michigan since last Saturday.”
Trump, who has been accused of downplaying the risk and severity of the coronavirus pandemic, even mocked Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s regular use of masks during Tuesday’s debate.
“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, Trump’s doctor, said in his letter. “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.”
Melania Trump said on Twitter that she had “mild symptoms” but was “overall feeling good.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that a negative test result only means that the person being tested did not have Covid-19 at the time of the test. The incubation period for the virus, however, is longer, and symptoms can appear as late as 14 days after initial infection, according to the CDC.
In a tweet Friday morning, Biden wished the Trumps a “swift recovery” and said that he and his wife, Jill Biden, would “continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”
Doug and I join Joe Biden and Dr. Biden in wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery. We’re keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 2, 2020
Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also offered wishes for a “speedy recovery” to Trump and his family.
Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest senior advisers, tested positive for the virus Thursday, making her the highest-profile member of the administration to have contracted the virus who is in frequent contact with Trump and other top officials.
Meadows told reporters Friday that “we discovered” Hicks was positive as Marine One was taking off from the White House en route to Joint Base Andrews Thursday afternoon. Trump and a handful of aides were headed to a closed-press fundraiser at the president’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
“We pulled some of the people traveling in close contact,” Meadows said.
Hours after the fundraiser’s conclusion, Trump tweeted about Hicks’ positive diagnosis and said that he and the first lady were being tested. Meadows said Friday that the White House had begun contact tracing prior to the fundraiser.
Meadows, who said his own Covid-19 test came back negative, acknowledged that he “fully” expected “other people in the White House will certainly have a positive test result.”
“We’ve got the mitigation plan in place,” he added.
Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday that he and the first lady, 50, were tested once Hicks tested positive, and he later tweeted that they were starting the “quarantine process.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines prescribe 10 days of isolation once a person receives a positive diagnosis, unless that person is showing symptoms, which would change the timeline.
Stocks plunged in early Friday trading after the announcement, before rebounding. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 300 points, or 1.2 percent, after it opened, but was down, in recent trading, 120 points, or 0.4 percent.
The president has held campaign rallies around the country for months, many of which are outdoors but some of which 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 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.
His office announced Friday morning that the Pences have tested negative for the virus.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that “the strength of the entire country” was with the president and the first lady and that “America stands united.”
Hicks, along with several other top White House and campaign advisers, traveled with the president to Cleveland for Tuesday’s debate. Several family members and other supporters in the audience were seen without masks.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Friday that both he and his wife tested negative for the virus this morning, adding that he has not interacted with the president since mid-September.
“We are praying for the president and first lady that they’ll have a speedy recovery,” he said while on a trip to Croatia.
Messages for a quick recovery from lawmakers and world leaders began flooding in Friday.
It was bipartisan — Democrats and Republicans offered prayers and wishes of “get well soon” to the president and his wife, with some Democrats wondering whether contracting coronavirus would change Trump’s outlook on the pandemic.
The president has drawn sharp criticism for his handling of the pandemic and his administration has also sowed confusion over wearing masks to slow the spread of Covid-19. Public health experts have said the mixed messaging hampered the country’s response to the pandemic and even led to preventable deaths.
After months of public condemnation, 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 that he “didn’t lie” to the American public about the severity of coronavirus, despite having told veteran journalist Bob Woodward in March that he had 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 last month after being pressed about his coronavirus response.
Trump announced in May that he had taken a two-week course of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he had promoted as a preventive or curative treatment. The Food and Drug Administration later pulled emergency authorization to use the drug to treat hospitalized patients, saying it carried too many risks without any apparent benefit.
After a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain tested positive for the virus; he later died. At the same rally, about eight White House staffers, including Secret Service personnel, tested positive. One of the president’s personal valets, who works in the West Wing serving him his meals, among other duties, tested positive in May.
While it is unknown where or when Trump contracted the illness, Trump has repeatedly expressed a lack of concern about getting sick from holding rallies or other events.
Chris Christie, the Republican former governor of New Jersey who helped prepare Trump for Tuesday’s debate, said on ABC’S “Good Morning America” that during those debate prep sessions, “no one was wearing masks in the room.” Those sessions involved about five or six people, according to Christie, and he said that when he left the White House on Tuesday, he didn’t notice any symptoms from either Hicks or the president.
At this week’s presidential debate, Trump was asked about rallies, and he mentioned rallies at airports and said: “So far we have had no problem whatsoever. It’s outside — that’s a big difference, according to the experts. And we do them outside.”
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper in September, Trump said he was not afraid of getting Covid-19 from an indoor rally. “I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,” Trump told the newspaper. “And so I’m not at all concerned.”
U.S. health officials continue to monitor for coronavirus cases in the United States. As of Thursday, more than 7 million cases had been confirmed in the U.S., based on NBC News’ count. There have been more than 205,000 deaths.
The risk of a severe illness increases with age and other factors, and other medical conditions can also increase risk, including obesity, according to the CDC.
Trump’s weight was put at 244 pounds in a summary of the president’s physical examination that was released in June, and his physician said he was healthy. The examinations were done last year. Trump has been said to be 6-foot-3. Based on that height and weight, Trump is considered obese, according to the CDC’s body mass index calculator.
Trump is not the only world leader to have tested 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 he 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 positive for Covid-19 later that month, days after Bolsonaro said he had overcome the illness and tested negative.