President Donald Trump said early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that plunges the country deeper into uncertainty just a month before the presidential election.
Trump, who has spent much of the year downplaying the threat of a virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans, said he and Mrs. Trump were quarantining. The White House physician said the president is expected to continue carrying out his duties “without disruption” while recovering.
Still, Trump’s diagnosis was sure to have a destabilising effect in Washington, raising questions about how far the virus had spread through the highest levels of the U.S. government. Hours before Trump announced he had contracted the virus, the White House said a top aide who had travelled with him during the week had tested positive.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” Trump tweeted just before 1 a.m. “We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
President Trump once said?
Mr Trump said at a White House briefing that researchers were looking at the effects of disinfectants and wondered aloud if they could be injected into people, saying the virus “does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that”.
US President Donald Trump once claimed “emerging” research suggests disinfectants and sunlight might be able to used as treatments and diminish the threat of the new coronavirus, triggering a backlash from medical experts.
After this press conference, one of the world’s biggest disinfectant manufacturers has issued an urgent warning, after President Trump suggested people could inject themselves with the substance to treat coronavirus.
The company which makes products including Dettol and Vanish warned that “under no circumstance” should its products be administered to humans “through injection, ingestion or any other route”.
Disinfectants are poisonous if ingested and even external exposure can be dangerous to the skin, eyes and respiratory system. The President’s comments were heavily criticised by medical experts. Later he said he was simply being sarcastic. 200,000 people have now died in the United States from coronavirus infection.
Trump’s announcement came hours after he confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of most trusted and longest-serving aides, had been diagnosed with the virus Thursday. Hicks began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride home from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday evening, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private information. She was isolated from other passengers aboard the plane, the person said.
Hicks had been with Trump and other senior staff aboard Marine One and Air Force One en route to that rally and had accompanied the president to Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland, along with members of the Trump family. They did not wear masks during the debate, in violation of the venue rules.
Multiple White House staffers have previously tested positive for the virus, including Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and one of the president’s personal valets.
Trump has consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable, even after White House staff and allies were exposed and sickened. Since the coronavirus emerged earlier this year, Trump has refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his own administration — such as wearing masks in public and practising social distancing. Instead, he has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters.
“I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he said told reporters back in May.
The news was sure to rattle an already shaken nation still grappling with how to safely reopen the economy without driving virus transmission. The White House has access to near-unlimited resources, including a constant supply of quick-result tests, and still failed to keep the president safe, raising questions about how the rest of the country will be able to protect its workers, students and the public as businesses and schools reopen.
Questions remain about why it took so long for Trump to be tested and why he and his aides continued to come to work and travel after Hicks fell ill. Trump traveled to New Jersey on Thursday for a fundraiser, exposing attendees to the virus.
We wish both Trump and his good lady a speedy recovery as we do anyone who contracts this virus.