Politics

President Trump, First Woman Melania assessments optimistic for coronavirus

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump return to the White House in Washington DC on September 11, 2020.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus and plunged the United States into further upheaval and uncertainty just over a month before election day.

The White House doctor said the president and first lady are "both good" at the moment.

In a tweet early Friday morning, Trump said, "We will start our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"

Shortly after Trump's tweet, US stock futures moved sharply down, with Dow futures falling more than 500 points.

Trump is now the most prominent figure to deal with Covid-19. Previously, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus and survived.

Trump's track record

Trump has been criticized less and less for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, where more than 7.2 million people were infected and 207,000 people have died, according to a report by Johns Hopkins University.

The president has admitted on tape that he knowingly downplayed the severity of the virus and has been overly optimistic about the virus as it spread across the country.

He has aggressively pushed for schools, businesses and sports leagues to reopen after the pandemic hit the economy, which was buzzing along and gave him his strongest argument for re-election. He has also routinely held campaign events where supporters were packed tightly together and many were not wearing masks.

In February he said, "I think the virus will be – it will be fine." And "Looks like it will miraculously go away by April if it gets a little warmer." Later that month he said, "The coronavirus is very much under control in the US … the stock market looks very good to me!"

Also in February, he said, "The 15 (cases in the US) will drop to near zero in a matter of days."

During Tuesday's debate, Trump said the US was "weeks" away from a coronavirus vaccine.

What's next

White House Doctor Sean Conley said in a memo early Friday morning, "The President and First Lady are fine at this point and they plan to stay home at the White House during their recovery."

He also said he expects Trump to "continue to perform his duties uninterruptedly while he recovers".

The announcement came hours after the president announced he would initiate a quarantine process after top aide Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that people should stay home and be quarantined if they have been exposed to the virus. The agency says people should be quarantined for 14 days.

Trump is currently due to appear at his second presidential debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden on October 15, or 13 days after his diagnosis was announced. The Presidential Debate Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how Trump's diagnosis will affect the debates ahead. Trump and Biden will also run on October 22nd.

Hicks has been known to spend a lot of time with Trump. The President, First Lady, and Hicks traveled to Cleveland Tuesday to discuss Air Force One with a group that included the President's closest relatives and advisers.

These include the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows; national security advisor Robert O & # 39; Brien; the president's attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany; President Ivanka Trump's daughter and husband Jared Kushner, both senior advisors to the White House; the President's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric; Donald Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who previously had Covid; Eric's wife Lara Trump; President Tiffany's daughter; Campaign Manager Bill Stepien; Top Campaign Official Jason Miller; Dan Scavino, White House social media director; White House Adviser Derek Lyons; political advisor Stephen Miller; and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Also on the flight was Alice Marie Johnson, an advocate for criminal justice reform, who pardoned Trump for her life imprisonment for drug crime.

Masks and Risks

The 74-year-old Trump himself rarely wears a mask after months of resistance and has made fun of 77-year-old Biden because he often wears face coverings.

"I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him he has a mask. He could speak 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen," Trump said of Biden during their debate Tuesday night.

At his age and weight, which is in the obesity range, there is a high risk of serious illness from Covid-19, according to the CDC website. Melania Trump is 50.

There have been cases of people who have experienced symptoms of Covid-19 who have recovered only to have persistent health problems, including respiratory problems.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the president's diagnosis.

According to NBC News, Hicks had shown symptoms on Wednesday night while accompanying the president and several others to a campaign rally in Minnesota. On the way back, she quarantined Air Force One and received positive test results Thursday morning.

Trump visited New Jersey for a quick fundraiser on Thursday.

Starting Thursday evening, Trump was due to travel to Florida for a rally on Friday evening. The White House released an updated schedule that deleted the trip from the president's schedule.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is due to face Senator Kamala Harris in a vice presidential debate on Wednesday, tweeted that he and second lady Karen Pence were praying for the president and first lady.

CNBC's Dan Mangan contributed to this report.

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