In a stunning early-morning announcement, President Donald Trump said early Friday that he and his wife, Melania Trump, have both tested positive for COVID-19 and will begin quarantining immediately, just four weeks before the most contentious presidential election in memory.
Trump made the announcement via Twitter at 12:54 a.m. Friday. Trump has largely downplayed the virus throughout 2020, dividing the country along the way.
The pandemic, which has claimed more than 200,000 American lives since March, has been especially harsh on older people, and those with pre-existing conditions. Trump is 74 years old and is considered overweight. His wife, Melania, is 50 years old.
Because the recommended quarantine time is two weeks, it's unclear how this will affect Trump's abilities to perform his duties as the 45th president of the United States, and what will happen with the final two presidential debates between Trump and Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden.
Most of America most recently saw Trump on Tuesday night during his first debate with Biden, where he spent much of the time downplaying COVID's impact on America. He has been seen often in the past month during campaign stops disregarding mask and social distancing protocols.
Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon, returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey, according to Fox News.
In a memo released to the media around 1 a.m. ET, the President's physician, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, wrote that he received confirmation of the positive tests on Thursday evening."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 wrote."The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country's greatest medical professionals and institutions.
"Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any further developments."
The President had said late Thursday night that he planned to quarantine after one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the infection, bringing the disease into his innermost circle. Earlier in the night, he had downplayed the virus' continued spread.
"The end of the pandemic is in sight," he said during prerecorded remarks at the annual Al Smith dinner, held virtually because of the health crisis.
While White House spokesmen continue to call Trump the "most tested man in the country," his positive result proves how easily the virus can spread even in the most inner of circles.
Trump and many of his aides have eschewed practices like social distancing and mask wearing. At Tuesday evening's presidential debate, the President mocked his rival, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, for frequently wearing a mask. Trump's most loyal supporters have constantly called the COVID-19 virus a hoax, saying it was 'fake news.''
The White House issued a new schedule to reflect several canceled events on Friday, including a fundraiser in Washington and a campaign rally in Florida. The campaign for the presidency has centered largely on the pandemic and the President's response to it.
Just before his positive COVID-19 announcement, Trump insisted the country is "rounding the corner" on the disease and claimed the virus would "disappear," though even health experts within his own administration said those claims did not reflect reality.
Vice-president Mike Pence tweeted out support for the president, and for a quick recovery for the couple.
'Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania.''
Pence is tested every day as well, and it was released Friday morning and he and his wife both tested negative.