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Trump experiencing 'mild symptoms' after testing positive for Covid-19

The president announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive and are isolating. The diagnosis thrusts the White House, election into turmoil.
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President Donald Trump is experiencing “mild symptoms” of Covid-19, after he and first lady Melania Trump announced on Friday they had tested positive for virus, triggering tumult in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

On Friday afternoon, the president had a low-grade fever, according to three people familiar with his condition. Conley released a second letter detailing treatment plans and indicating Trump was fatigued.

Trump was moved to Walter Reed Military Hospital on Friday evening.

The president tweeted an 18-second video in which he thanked people for their support and said he would be going to the hospital. "I think I'm doing very well, but we're going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well," Trump said.

Trump, who is 74, announced his diagnosis on Twitter early Friday morning, adding he would “begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately."

The announcement immediately threw into question what the final 32 days of the campaign will look like, including whether the remaining two presidential debates will be held. The next debate is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.

Joe Biden, who shared a stage with Trump in Cleveland on Tuesday for the first presidential debate, tested negative for Covid-19 on Friday, his primary care physician said in a statement. Biden's wife Jill has also tested negative, the doctor said. Biden proceeded with previously scheduled campaign travel to Michigan on Friday.

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Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a central point of the election, with his opponents criticizing his response. Trump, who has been accused of downplaying the risk and severity of the pandemic, mocked Biden's regular use of masks during Tuesday's debate and defended his record on responding to the virus.

A White House official told NBC News that there are discussions about whether Trump will address the American public. Trump, who regularly posts on Twitter, was silent on the social media platform after announcing his infection, and ceded the only event on his official public schedule to Vice President Mike Pence.

"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," Conley, Trump's doctor, said in his letter. "Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines prescribe 10 days of isolation once a person receives a positive diagnosis, unless that person is showing symptoms, which would change the timeline.

Pence, who tested negative for the disease on Friday, replaced Trump on an afternoon phone call to discuss Covid-19 support for vulnerable senior citizens, according to a source familiar with the situation.


Upcoming campaign events involving Trump were "in the process of being moved to virtual events or are being temporarily postponed," the president's re-election campaign manager Bill Stepien said.

Events involving Trump's family were being "temporarily postponed," Stepien also said, adding that Pence "plans on resuming his scheduled campaign events."

The White House physician who treats Pence said in a statement that the vice president was not considered to be in close contact with Trump or any other individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 and did not need to quarantine.

Hope Hicks, one of the president's closest senior advisers, tested positive for the virus Thursday, making her the highest-profile member of the administration to have contracted the virus who is in frequent contact with Trump and other top officials.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tested positive for the virus on Wednesday "after a member of her family tested positive," an RNC spokesman said. The spokesman added that McDaniel "has been at her home in Michigan since last Saturday.”

The announcement of Trump's diagnosis set off a series of announcements that others had been tested and received negative results.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that a negative test result only means that the person being tested did not have Covid-19 at the time of the test. The incubation period for the virus, however, is longer, and symptoms can appear as late as 14 days after initial infection, according to the CDC.

Barron Trump, the Trumps' 14-year-old son, has tested negative for the virus, Melania Trump's chief of staff Stephanie Grisham said, adding that "all precautions are being taken to ensure he’s kept safe and healthy.”

White House official Carolina Hurley tweeted Friday morning that the president's daughter Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, both tested negative for Covid-19 on Friday.

Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey who helped prepare Trump for Tuesday's debate, said on ABC'S “Good Morning America” that during those debate prep sessions, “no one was wearing masks in the room.”

Those sessions involved about five or six people, according to Christie, and he said that when he left the White House on Tuesday, he didn’t notice any symptoms from either Hicks or the president.

Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters Friday that "we discovered" Hicks was positive as Marine One was taking off from the White House en route to Joint Base Andrews Thursday afternoon. Trump and a handful of aides were headed to a closed-press fundraiser at the president's golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

"We pulled some of the people traveling in close contact," Meadows said.

Meadows, who said his own Covid-19 test came back negative, acknowledged that he "fully" expected "other people in the White House will certainly have a positive test result."

"We've got the mitigation plan in place," he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tweeted Friday that he'd spoken by phone with Trump Friday morning and pledged to proceed "full steam ahead" with the confirmation process of the president's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

Stocks fell in early Friday trading after the announcement, before rebounding. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 300 points, or 1.2 percent, after it opened, but recovered and was down by fewer than 20 points.

The president has held campaign rallies around the country for months, many of which are outdoors but some of which have been indoors. The most recent rally was Wednesday night in Minnesota — where his family was seen not wearing masks in the audience — and he traveled to New Jersey on Thursday for a fundraiser.

"This was avoidable," said NBC News contributor Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert. "This did not have to happen if they were practicing the proper procedures and not going to these rallies and having these chaotic events where, of course, airborne exposure was going to happen, even if it was at an outdoor setting,"

"No masking, no distancing — what did they expect was going to happen?" Gupta said.

Hicks, along with several other top White House and campaign advisers, traveled with the president to Cleveland for Tuesday's debate. Several family members and other supporters in the audience were seen without masks.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Friday that both he and his wife tested negative for the virus that morning, adding that he has not interacted with the president since mid-September.

“We are praying for the president and first lady that they’ll have a speedy recovery," he said while on a trip to Croatia.

Messages for a quick recovery from lawmakers and world leaders began flooding in Friday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that "the strength of the entire country" was with the president and the first lady and that "America stands united."

Democrats and Republicans offered prayers and wishes of "get well soon" to the president and his wife, with some Democrats wondering whether contracting coronavirus would change Trump's outlook on the pandemic.

In a tweet Friday morning, Biden wished the Trumps a "swift recovery" and said that he and his wife, Jill Biden, would "continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family."


The president has drawn sharp criticism for his handling of the pandemic and his administration has also sowed confusion over wearing masks to slow the spread of Covid-19. Public health experts have said the mixed messaging hampered the country's response to the pandemic and even led to preventable deaths.

After months of public condemnation, the president tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask, writing in July, "many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance." Then, in August, Trump urged Americans to cover their faces in public as a "patriotic" thing to do.

The president has insisted that he "didn't lie" to the American public about the severity of coronavirus, despite having told veteran journalist Bob Woodward in March that he had been intentionally downplaying the virus's potential impact.

"What I said is we have to be calm. We can't be panicked," Trump told reporters last month after being pressed about his coronavirus response.

After a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain tested positive for the virus; he later died. At the same rally, about eight White House staffers, including Secret Service personnel, tested positive. One of the president's personal valets, who works in the West Wing serving him his meals, among other duties, tested positive in May.

At this week's presidential debate, Trump was asked about rallies, and he mentioned rallies at airports and said: "So far we have had no problem whatsoever. It's outside — that's a big difference, according to the experts. And we do them outside."

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper in September, Trump said he was not afraid of getting Covid-19 from an indoor rally. "I'm on a stage and it’s very far away," Trump told the newspaper. "And so I’m not at all concerned."

U.S. health officials continue to monitor for coronavirus cases in the United States. As of Thursday, more than 7 million cases had been confirmed in the U.S., based on NBC News' count. There have been more than 205,000 deaths.

The risk of a severe illness increases with age and other factors, and other medical conditions can also increase risk, including obesity, according to the CDC. Trump's weighs about 240 pounds and is about 6 feet, 3 inches tall, according to past health assessments made public in June. His physician has said he is overall healthy.

Trump is not the only world leader to have tested positive for the coronavirus. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson caught the disease in March and was hospitalized, ending up in intensive care. The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, also tested positive for Covid-19 in July.