CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives two thumbs up to the crowd during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party’s nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus, the president announced on Twitter early Friday morning, adding that he and the first lady would go into immediate quarantine.
The news comes 32 days before the US presidential election and less than three days after Trump traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, for the first of three planned presidential debates. Trump’s quarantine and recovery process could take weeks, throwing an election, already jolted by the coronavirus pandemic, into further turmoil.
Just before 1 a.m. Friday, Trump tweeted: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
A little more than an hour prior to that announcement, Trump had tweeted that Hope Hicks, one of his top aides, had tested positive for coronavirus and that he planned on going into quarantine while awaiting the results of his own test.
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
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has killed some 207,000 people in the United States. More than 7.3 million Americans have tested positive for coronavirus. Total cases worldwide number 34.2 million as of early Friday morning.
Trump, 74, is in the increased risk group for COVID-19 complications. The first lady is 50 years old.
About 1 a.m. Friday, the president’s physician, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, announced the president’s positive coronavirus test results in a written release.
“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, adding: “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.”
As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) October 2, 2020
In addition to being head of state and head of government, the US president also serves as commander in chief of America’s armed forces. The president’s military duties include final release authority for nuclear weapons.
“Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering,” Conley said in a statement.
Under the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, the powers of the presidency temporarily transfer to Vice President Mike Pence if the vice president and a majority of cabinet members determine the president is disabled and “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Later Friday morning, the White House announced that Pence has tested negative for coronavirus and remains “in good health.” After Pence, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is next in the line of presidential succession.
In March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first leader of a major world power to announce he had tested positive for coronavirus. Johnson, who was 55 years old at the time, faced a tough battle with COVID-19. He was hospitalized 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus and spent three days in intensive care.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab temporarily assumed responsibility for running the British government during Johnson’s illness.
Johnson later said it was a “50-50” decision about whether he should be put on a ventilator. The prime minister has since fully recovered and is back at work.