President Trump, first lady under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn of the White House after disembarking Marine One Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, concluding their trip to the Flight 93 National Memorial 19th Anniversary Observance in Shanksville, Pa.
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn of the White House after disembarking Marine One Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, concluding their trip to the Flight 93 National Memorial 19th Anniversary Observance in Shanksville, Pa. | White House/Tia Dufour

President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, are both now under quarantine after revealing early Friday that they have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted shortly before 1 a.m. Friday.

The first lady shortly followed with a similar tweet after 1 a.m. and noted that she had postponed all her upcoming engagements.

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“As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together,” the first lady noted.

The president’s physician, U.S. Navy Commander Dr. Sean P. Conley, said he and his medical team would maintain “a vigilant watch” over the president and that he should be able to “continue carrying out his duties without disruption.”

“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. 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,” he said in a statement.

The president’s diagnosis comes after his close aide, Hope Hicks, also tested positive, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

Hicks reportedly traveled with the president aboard Air Force One to and from the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday and to a Minnesota rally on Wednesday. She began feeling poorly in Minnesota and quarantined aboard the presidential plane on the way home, people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg.

While Trump has encouraged people to wear masks, he has not supported a national mandate and is often seen without one. During the first presidential debate Tuesday, Trump had taunted Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden for always wearing one.

"I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask," Trump said. "He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."

As an older adult, the risks of severe illness for President Trump, who turned 74, in June is great, according to the CDC.  Eight out of every 10 deaths from the virus, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S. since the pandemic started, have been among those 65 and older.

“People in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older,” the public health agency noted in a bulletin last month.

Michael Baker, a professor with the department of global health at the University of Otago in Wellington who is an adviser to the New Zealand government, said while the president is in a high risk group, many people his age “on average, do well” with the virus.

“If you don’t know anything about Donald Trump, just knowing that he’s a male, over 70, and appears to be overweight, right away, you can say he’s in the high-risk group,” Baker told The New York Times. “The good news is that even people who have a number of risk factors, on average, do well. Only a minority have illness and severe consequences.”

David Hui, director of the Stanley Ho Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said if the president has no underlying health conditions he is likely to fare well.

“If he doesn’t have diabetes, high blood pressure or any long-term illness, then the outcome probably won’t be severe,” Hui told the Times.

Devin O'Malley, press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, said Friday that COVID-19 tests from Pence and his wife, Karen, came back negative.

"As has been routine for months, Vice President Pence is tested for COVID-19 every day. This morning, Vice President Pence and the Second Lady tested negative for COVID-19. Vice President Pence remains in good health and wishes the Trumps well in their recovery," O'Malley tweeted.

Pence also said he was praying for the speedy recovery of the president and the first lady.

"Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania," Pence tweeted.

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