President Donald Trump said he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus, plunging the United States into further upheaval and uncertainty just over a month away from Election Day.
In a tweet early Friday morning, Trump said: “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Shortly after Trump’s tweet, U.S. stock futures moved sharply lower with Dow futures falling more than 500 points.
Trump is now the most prominent figure to come down with Covid-19. Previously, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had tested positive for coronavirus and survived.
Trump has come under withering criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, where more than 7.2 million have been infected and 207,000 people have died, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
The president has admitted on tape to knowingly downplaying the severity of the virus. He has aggressively pushed for schools, businesses, and sports leagues to reopen after the pandemic hammered the economy, which had been humming along and had given him his strongest argument for reelection. He has also routinely held campaign events where supporters were densely packed together, with many not wearing masks.
White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo, “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.”
He also said he expects Trump to “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
The announcement came hours after the president said he would begin a quarantine process after top aide Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say people should stay home and quarantine if they might have been exposed to the virus. The agency says people should quarantine for 14 days.
Trump currently is scheduled to appear at his second presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Oct. 15, or 13 days after he revealed his diagnosis. The Commission on Presidential Debates didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on how Trump’s diagnosis affects the upcoming debates. Trump and Biden are also set to square off Oct. 22.
Hicks, who has been known to spend a lot of time with Trump, had traveled with the president to the debate Tuesday night in Cleveland. She was seen not wearing a mask. Both she and Trump had traveled on Air Force One this week with several of the president’s family members and closest aides.
Trump, 74, himself rarely wears a mask after months of resistance and has mocked Biden, 77, for often wearing face coverings.
“I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said about Biden during their debate Tuesday night.
At his age and weight, which is in the range of obesity, Trump is considered to at high risk of severe illness from Covid-19, according to the CDC’s website. Melania Trump is 50.
The Biden campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the president’s diagnosis.
According to NBC News, Hicks had started showing symptoms Wednesday night, when she had accompanied the president and several others to a campaign event in Minnesota. She quarantined on Air Force One on the way back and received positive test results Thursday morning.
Trump visited New Jersey for a brief fundraising event on Thursday.
As of Thursday night, Trump had been slated to travel to Florida for a campaign rally Friday night. The White House issued an updated schedule that cleared travel from the president’s schedule.