President Donald Trump announced on Twitter early Friday morning that both he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a contagion the president has downplayed since it began spreading in the United States and continued to minimize even after the nation's death toll surpassed 200,000.
"Tonight, FLOTUS and I tested positive for Covid-19," Trump, 74, tweeted just before 1 am ET Friday. "We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"
Trump's announcement came hours after one of the president's top aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday morning. Hicks, who reportedly began showing symptoms on Wednesday, traveled with Trump throughout the week, including to Tuesday night's presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The Washington Post reported that "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. There was no immediate answer from Biden's camp as to whether he had been tested."
"After White House officials learned of Hicks' 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 Post noted. "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."
During a speech at the 75th annual Al Smith Dinner at the White House Thursday evening ahead of his positive test, Trump declared that "the end of the pandemic is in sight" even as the coronavirus continues to spread and deaths rise in states across the country.
In a speech just hours ago, Trump vowed the “end of the pandemic is in sight.”
Now he’s tested positive for coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/MwmiKifA0F
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) October 2, 2020
Sean Conley, the White House physician, said in a statement that "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." Conley did not say whether Trump was showing symptoms.
World leaders were quick to respond to news of Trump and the first lady's positive tests, which come just a month before the November 3 U.S. presidential election.
"Wishing President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump speedy recovery from Covid-19," Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted early Friday.
Gabriel Attal, a spokesperson for the French government, said Trump's diagnosis "demonstrates that the virus spares no one, including those who have shown skepticism."