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Trump says he and first lady have contracted covid-19 – The Washington Post

By October 2, 2020 Entertainment News

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

The president did not tweet again Friday.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters Friday morning that the president was experiencing “mild symptoms,” but remained in “good spirits and very energetic.”

The diagnosis is a jolt for the country’s leadership and had some advisers discussing the continuity of government early Friday, should the president’s condition grow worse. The coronavirus and the disease it causes, covid-19, has killed more than 205,000 Americans and sickened millions more.

The president is working from the residence, aides say, but has canceled all scheduled White House events. He originally planned to go ahead with a call Friday with elderly Americans about the coronavirus, but asked Vice President Pence to do it instead.

The Trump campaign also announced that events involving the president are being postponed or will be held virtually. Pence, who tested negative for the virus Friday morning, will resume campaigning.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), also tested negative and intend to continue campaigning as well.

Trump’s early-morning announcement marked an extraordinary turn for the first family, coming little more than a month before Election Day and as Trump has escalated his campaign pace in an effort to catch Biden, who leads in national and key state polls. Trump, aides and voters say, trails largely because of his handling of the virus, which has dominated voters’ attention along with the economic collapse caused by pandemic shutdowns.

The virus could further challenge Trump’s reelection bid, because advisers were hoping to close the gap in upcoming weeks with an aggressive travel schedule and a message that the coronavirus had largely passed.

Others close to the president have announced that they too have the virus, and Meadows said he expects that more will test positive.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tested positive for the virus Wednesday but didn’t reveal her diagnosis until after Trump announced he had the virus. McDaniel was last with Trump a week ago at a Sept. 25 fundraiser.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, both of whom attended Trump’s Rose Garden event announcing Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, have tested positive as well.

A maskless Meadows told reporters outside the White House that he and White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino had tested negative.

Others in Trump’s immediate orbit who have also so far tested negative include daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, teenage son Barron Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Meadows said he expected Trump to recover quickly, but would not comment on what treatment the president is receiving.

Since late Tuesday, Trump has appeared with thousands at a rally in Minnesota, debated Biden onstage and has interacted with a coterie of aides and political advisers at the White House. Biden announced that he and his wife, Jill Biden, both tested negative for the coronavirus Friday.

After White House officials learned of Hicks’s symptoms, Trump and his entourage flew Thursday to New Jersey, where he attended a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster and delivered a speech. Trump was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters, at a roundtable event.

The president did not wear a mask Thursday, including at the events at his golf course and on the plane, officials said. He was tested after he returned to the White House, but he also appeared on Sean Hannity’s TV show from the residence by telephone.

Two people who spent time with him said he did not show noticeable symptoms although he seemed tired. During his fundraiser in New Jersey, “he said the things he usually says on TV,” said an attendee.

The president has pushed publicly for the country to reopen fully despite stubbornly high levels of cases, hoping that the resulting economic benefit and potential for nationwide optimism would spur his electoral chances. An infected president could raise concerns nationally about reopening businesses and schools — both key goals for the president as the disease has spread.

Even as the virus exploded across the nation, Trump has continued to hold large events indoors and outdoors featuring mostly maskless crowds of people who squeezed together to greet the president. Some members of the Secret Service have also contracted the virus while preparing for presidential events, The Washington Post has reported.

Trump has regularly appeared in public and in private without a mask — and has mocked Biden for wearing one and for curbing his campaign events for safety’s sake. The president has insisted that the virus is mostly dangerous to older people — a group to which he belongs — or those with health complications, although medical experts say the virus can strike anyone. Trump has publicly and privately squabbled with a number of the medical experts in his administration over how seriously the White House should take the virus.

During a prerecorded speech to a Catholic charity dinner in New York on Thursday night, Trump took his usual optimistic tone about the virus. “And I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country,” he said.

In recent months, Trump has told others he was not particularly concerned about the virus, officials said, after initially showing some fear, especially when a friend his age died of covid complications in April. Many of Trump’s aides also have eschewed masks, both in the West Wing presidential offices and on trips.

For some months, aides had vowed to be more careful around Trump, taking visitors’ temperatures upon entering the White House complex, limiting access to the Oval Office, requiring daily testing of people close to him and urging mask usage in the West Wing. But mask usage has slipped in recent months, officials say, and temperatures have no longer been checked, although people around the president are still tested. The diagnosis is likely to raise additional concerns about the rapid testing system at the White House, which is known to have a lower accuracy rate than more intrusive tests.

Attendees in the crowd at events with the vice president and the president have not been tested for the virus or required to have their temperatures taken.

Hicks is among Trump’s closest staffers and regularly enters the Oval Office multiple times a day, meeting with White House and campaign aides.

She has been spotted on multiple occasions without a mask, along with other top aides.

Hicks traveled with the president to Pennsylvania for a rally Saturday, to Cleveland for the first presidential debate Tuesday and to Minnesota for another campaign rally Wednesday. Hicks was around the president and top political advisers extensively in recent days preparing for the debate, an official said early Friday.

She was photographed without a mask at the Pennsylvania rally clapping to the Village People’s “YMCA” with other Trump aides and in Cleveland on the tarmac deplaning Air Force One.

Her positive test came after she began showing symptoms at the Wednesday rally. A person familiar with the situation said Hicks was quarantined on the plane trip back from Minnesota.

Hicks, 31, served as Trump’s 2016 campaign spokeswoman from the beginning of his candidacy and then as White House communications director before leaving in March 2018 for a job at Fox News. She returned to the White House in February in the role of counselor to the president.

Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity during a live interview Thursday night that he and the first lady were tested after they learned about Hicks and were awaiting the results.

“She tested positive and I just went out with a test . . . so whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” Trump said. “So I just went for a test and we’ll see what happens. Who knows? . . . We spend a lot of time with Hope, so we’ll see what happens.”

Trump later tweeted that he and the first lady were awaiting test results. “In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process.”

Trump also suggested that Hicks could have contracted it from members of the military or law enforcement.

“It is very, very hard when you are with people from the military, or from law enforcement, and they come over to you, and they want to hug you, and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them,” the president said. “You get close, and things happen. I was surprised to hear with Hope, but she is a very warm person with them. She knows there’s a risk, but she is young.”

Hicks is the most senior White House aide known to have tested positive for the virus. Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, caught the virus in May and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top Trump fundraiser and girlfriend of the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., contracted the virus in July. Before Hicks, the most senior White House official to test positive was national security adviser Robert O’Brien in late July.

At Tuesday’s debate, Trump was pressed on his insistence on having huge campaign rallies where no one is required to wear facial coverings or to socially distance.

“We’ve had no negative effect, and we’ve had 35 to 40,000 people at some of these rallies,” Trump said.

Biden shot back: “He’s been totally irresponsible the way in which he has handled the social distancing and people wearing masks, basically encouraged them not to. He’s a fool on this.”

Trump replied: “If you could get the crowds, you would have done the same thing. But you can’t. Nobody cares.”

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