President Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning development that came hours after he confirmed one of his longest-serving aides with whom he had recently traveled also received a positive test result.
The revelation had implications for the president’s health, the administration’s response to the pandemic and also the Nov. 3 election, during which Trump has leaned on states to reopen and has claimed that the nation is “turning the corner” on the virus.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” Trump tweeted early Friday morning. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
The president has often claimed the U.S. has the pandemic “under control,” but his own positive test result – assuming it is accurate – is certain to raise questions about the reopening of schools and businesses when the virus could not be contained within the White House, arguably the most secure facility in the world.
Trump, 74, was the latest world leader to test positive for COVID-19. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major leader in March. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fell ill in July and had a series of positive tests. Both men recovered.
The president’s positive test is certain to become wrapped up in his own efforts to downplay the seriousness of the disease for months while holding rallies, fundraisers and other campaign events across the country, including in virus hot spots.
Trump recently appeared at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday. Before that, he traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday for the first presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump took part in a fundraiser and a roundtable in Bedminster, New Jersey, earlier in the day Thursday.
Vice President Mike Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has been found to generally be in good health in past annual physicals, though like many Americans he takes a statin drug designed to lower his cholesterol.
The results of his latest physical, announced in June, showed that he weighed 244 pounds, up from 243 last year. But his total cholesterol dropped to 167 from 196 last year. Trump’s blood pressure at the time was measured at 121 over 79.
White House physician Sean Conley confirmed the positive test result in a memo released by the White House shortly after the president’s tweet. Conley said both were “well at this time” and that they planned to “remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
Conley said he and his team would “maintain a vigilant watch.”
“Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering,” Conley said.
The White House released an updated public schedule for the president early Friday in which his public events had been cancelled, including a planned rally in Florida. Trump maintained an event on his schedule, a midday phone call focused on COVID-19 with vulnerable seniors.
The president repeatedly asserted the U.S. outperformed other nations in confronting the disease, despite having the highest number of cases and deaths in the world.
More than 200,000 Americans have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Trump has dismissed concerns about those large campaign events, of which he has hosted more than a dozen this month alone. He has also downplayed the importance of a face covering for himself, noting that he is regularly tested at the White House.