Trump and first lady to quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19

Donald Trump's announcement comes shortly after his close White House aide Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus. /AFP

President Donald Trump says he and first lady Melania Trump are beginning a “quarantine process” after testing positive for Covid-19.

Trump and the first lady had been awaiting coronavirus test results after a top aide he spent substantial time with this week, Hope Hicks, tested positive for Covid-19.

Trump tweeted early Friday: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for Covid-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

Hicks began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride home from a rally in Minnesota Wednesday evening, according to an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private information.

She was quarantined away from others on the plane and her diagnosis was confirmed Thursday, the person said.

It was unclear what Trump’s quarantine would entail.

On Thursday, the White House distributed a schedule for Friday that showed Trump planned to go forward with a fundraiser at his Washington, D.C. hotel and a political rally in Sanford, Florida.

Hicks, who serves as counselor to Trump, also travelled with Trump to the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday.

She is the closest White House official to Trump to test positive for the virus so far.

The positive tests are yet another reminder that the coronavirus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to suggest it no longer poses a danger.

Since it emerged earlier this year, Trump, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his own administration — such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing.

Instead, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters. The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide.

Trump had traveled to New Jersey Thursday for a fundraiser despite concerns about Hicks’ health.

In a statement, White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president “takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.”

“White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling,” Deere said.

Hicks had travelled with the president multiple times this week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday, and aboard Air Force One to Tuesday night’s first presidential debate in Cleveland.

Hicks is one of the president’s most trusted and longest-serving aides, having worked as spokesperson for his 2016 campaign. She originally served as White House as communications director, and re-joined the administration this year as an adviser ahead of the election.

Her positive test was first reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday evening. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and one of the president’s personal valets.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive in South Dakota before an Independence Day fireworks show at Mount Rushmore.

Still, Trump has consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. “I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he told reporters back in May.

After earlier positive cases close to the president, the White House instituted a daily testing regimen for the president’s senior aides. Anyone who will be in close proximity to the president or vice president is also tested every day, including reporters.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have been in close contact with someone with Covid-19 quarantine for 14 days, White House staffers are considered essential workers.

CDC’s guidelines for exposed essential workers allows them to return to work if they take precautions, including taking their temperature before going into work, wearing a mask at all times and practicing social distancing.

Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from the virus.


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