U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that he and his wife Melania had tested positive for COVID-19 and were going into quarantine, upending the race for the White House.
"We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!" the president said in a late night tweet.
Trump, 74, is at high risk for the deadly virus both because of his age and because he is considered overweight. He has remained in good health during his time in office but is not known to exercise regularly or to follow a healthy diet.
The results came after news that Hope Hicks, a top adviser and trusted aide, had tested positive for the new coronavirus earlier on Thursday. 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, who is tested regularly for the virus that causes COVID-19, has held rallies with thousands of people in recent weeks in the run-up to the November 3 election, despite warnings from public health professionals against having events with large crowds.
The president largely eschews wearing masks and has criticized others who do. Public health professionals say mask-wearing is key to helping to prevent the virus from spreading.
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.
The development alters the presidential race dramatically.
The White House issued a new schedule for Trump's activities on Friday that did not include his planned trip to Florida. Trump has held regular rallies around the country to drum up enthusiasm for his candidacy against Democratic rival Joe Biden, who is ahead in national opinion polls.
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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. The president has touted his management of the crisis.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has lambasted Trump for not having a clear national plan to tackle the pandemic. Biden, a former vice president, regularly wears a mask and has eschewed big campaign events. He is leading Trump in national polls.
Trump and his staff regularly do not wear masks, and Trump has denigrated people who wear them often. Health professionals say mask-wearing is one of the key things people can do to help prevent the spread of the virus.
At the White House, people who are around Trump, including some reporters, get tested on a regular basis. But the White House did away with daily temperature checks for everyone who enters the complex months ago, and people who are tested for the virus interact with others in the White House campus who are not.
The White House said in a statement that Trump "takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously" and that it followed guidelines for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible.
Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus earlier this year and suffered from symptoms before recovering.
Trump said he was surprised that Hicks had tested positive.
"She knows there's a risk, but she's young," he said.
Hicks returned to the White House earlier this year after a stint in the private sector. She served previously as White House communications director and as a spokeswoman for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.