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President Trump and first lady test positive for the coronavirus

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President Trump said early Friday that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” Trump said in a tweet at 12:54 a.m. Eastern time. “We will get through this TOGETHER!”

Trump’s positive test came just hours after the White House announced that senior aide Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest advisors, had tested positive Thursday after several days of traveling with the president.

White House physician Sean P. Conley, in a letter made public early Friday, said the president and First Lady Melania Trump “are both well at this time and plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.” He added that he expects Trump to continue his duties as president “without disruption.”

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The announcement, coming just 32 days until election day, amounts to more than just another bombshell in a country now accustomed to constant chaos in its politics.

President Trump’s positive coronavirus test puts him in the company of a number of world leaders and major public figures who have been infected.

It is almost certain to affect the president’s ability to hit the campaign trail in the coming weeks, thrusting the pandemic — and Trump’s handling of it — back to the forefront of the campaign and the country’s consciousness. Shortly after Trump’s shocking tweet, the White House appeared to cancel the president’s rally in Orlando, Fla., on Friday night, removing it from an updated schedule.

More immediately, the health scare for Trump, who at 74 is at higher risk of serious complications from the virus that has already killed more than 200,000 Americans, amounts to the most serious known health crisis faced by any sitting president in recent American history.

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Trump, who has been less than fully transparent about his health and never explained last year’s emergency trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, weighs 244 pounds.

Dr. Bob Lahita of St. Joseph University Hospital told Fox News late Thursday that COVID-19 patients older than 70, though at higher risk from the virus, still stand a 96% chance of surviving the disease. But he noted that obesity and hypertension can elevate the risk.

Trump’s diagnosis laid bare the fallacy of his repeated claims that experts’ public health warnings were overly alarmist and that the pandemic itself was nearly over.

Just hours before he announced his positive test result, in a pre-recorded message to the New York Archdiocese’s Al Smith dinner, Trump claimed that “the end of the coronavirus pandemic is in sight.”

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On Thursday evening after news reports revealed Hicks’ diagnosis, Trump said during a phone interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity that he and the first lady had begun “a quarantine process,” although he did not offer further details.

Trump, who trails his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, in national and swing state polls as early voting in several states is already underway, was also scheduled to campaign next week in Arizona and Nevada, and to appear at two fundraisers in Los Angeles and Orange County, but the three-day Western swing could now be in jeopardy.

And Trump’s positive test could force several senior campaign and White House aides into quarantine with just more than a month left before the election. None of the president’s guests at Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland, most of whom traveled with him on Air Force One, were wearing masks in the debate hall. Among them: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Tiffany Trump, Lara Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and the first lady.

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Follow along here for the latest about Trump’s positive coronavirus test and what the news means for the presidential campaign.

Since the coronavirus first emerged in March, the president, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his administration — such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Instead, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters. The virus has killed more than 207,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide.

Trump traveled Thursday to New Jersey for a fundraiser despite concerns about Hicks’ health.

“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,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

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Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, who is fourth in line to succeed the president, said that he was tested for the coronavirus on his flight Friday morning from Rome to Dubrovnik, Croatia, and that the test had come back negative.

Pompeo said it was the fourth time in the last two weeks that he had been tested. He was last with Trump on Sept. 15 at the White House for the signing of accords between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

News of the coronavirus infection of the most powerful man in the world drew reactions of shock, sympathy, undisguised glee, outrage and curiosity.

Pompeo’s wife, Susan, who is accompanying him on his current three-nation, five-day tour, also tested negative Friday, Pompeo said. He said he was reevaluating whether to proceed with plans to travel Sunday to Asia.

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“We are praying for the president and the first lady and hoping they have a speedy recovery,” Pompeo said.

Times staff writers James Rainey in Los Angeles and Tracy Wilkinson in Dubrovnik, Croatia, contributed to this report.


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