| 5.8°C Dublin

US President Donald Trump and Melania test positive for Covid-19

Close

President Donald Trump stands on stage with first lady Melania Trump after the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

President Donald Trump stands on stage with first lady Melania Trump after the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

President Donald Trump stands on stage with first lady Melania Trump after the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19 and would immediately quarantine and begin the "recovery process."

"We will get through this," Trump tweeted.

Trump's positive test follows news that Hope Hicks, a top adviser and trusted aide, had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Hicks travels regularly with the president on Air Force One and, along with other senior aides, accompanied him to Ohio for the presidential debate on Tuesday and to Minnesota for a campaign event on Wednesday.

Trump's announcement comes little more than a month before election day and as Trump has escalated his campaign in an effort to catch Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who leads in national and key state polls.

Close

Hope Hicks has tested positive to coronavirus (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Hope Hicks has tested positive to coronavirus (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Hope Hicks has tested positive to coronavirus (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Trump has come under sharp criticism for his response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States alone.

Trump, who is tested regularly for the virus that causes Covid-19, has kept up a rigorous travel schedule across the country in recent weeks, holding rallies with thousands of people in the run-up to the November 3 election, despite warnings from public health professionals against having events with large crowds.

In recent months, 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.

The first lady, who often accompanies Trump on his campaign events, appeared with him at the recently concluded presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, where she was seen wearing a mask while seated in the audience. Later, at the end of the debate, she walked up to greet her husband without wearing her mask.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Hicks is one of Trump's closest staff members and has been spotted on multiple occasions without a mask.

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 "In the meantime . . . will begin our quarantine process."

Trump suggested 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 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.

After Hicks' diagnosis, White House spokesman said the president was taking the matter "seriously."

"The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously," said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

"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."

Hicks is the most senior White House aide known to have tested positive. Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman, Katie Miller, caught the virus in May and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump campaign finance chair and girlfriend of the president's son Donald Trump Jr., contracted the virus in July.

The White House administers daily coronavirus tests to aides, reporters and others who come into contact with the president. But public health experts warn they are not foolproof.

At Tuesday's presidential debate in Cleveland, 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.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe 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," Biden said. "He's a fool on this."

"If you could get the crowds, you would have done the same thing," Trump said. "But you can't. Nobody cares."

Trump's positive test caps a months-long response to the virus, the seriousness of which he has consistently underplayed. Earlier on Thursday night the president predicted that the end of the pandemic was in sight.


Most Watched





Privacy