President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus, which has already killed more than 207 000 Americans.
The announcement comes just 33 days before the US presidential election. Trump has received sharp criticism for his response to the pandemic and diminished the impact of the virus for much of the year.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” wrote Trump in a tweet sent 6:54am CAT. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
The president’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, released a memorandum shortly after the announcement saying that Trump (74) and Melania (50) “are both well at this time” and that the pair plan to remain at home within the White House for the duration of their recovery. Conley, however, did not say whether Trump was experiencing any symptoms.
“The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch,” wrote Conley. “Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties while recovering.”
The positive test results come on the heels of news that one of Trump’s closest advisors, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the virus.
Hicks returned a positive result on Thursday, the same night that Trump predicted that the end of the pandemic was in sight. She had traveled with the president on Air Force One on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Guardian reports that it is unusual for COVID-19 patients to return a positive PCR test just one day after exposure, which may indicate that Trump has been carrying the virus for longer – potentially exposing those he interacted with this week.
The 74-year-old president is in the age category most vulnerable to the virus. Eight out of every ten people who succumb to the virus in the USA have been 65 and older.