US President Donald Trump said early Friday he and First Lady Melania had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!,” Trump tweeted.
The extraordinary setback for Trump had immediate political consequences just 31 days before election day, forcing him to cancel campaign trips and adding new volatility to a contest already steeped in tension.
Trump’s challenger, Democrat Joe Biden, is well ahead in the polls and has made criticism of the Republican’s handling of the coronavirus — and frequent downplaying of the pandemic’s seriousness a key issue.
Trump, in response, has been betting on an evermore aggressive schedule of campaign rallies around the country. The events, which he says prove his true political strength, bring together thousands of people, often without masks and sometimes in contravention of local rules.
That strategy is now in doubt, with the White House immediately canceling a planned campaign rally in the crucial swing state of Florida later Friday.
It looked certain that Trump would have to cancel a trip scheduled for this weekend in Wisconsin, another battleground. He had also been expected to travel frequently next week, including longer distances to western states.
A second televised debate with Biden is scheduled for October 15.
Technically obese and in his 70s, Trump is in a higher-risk category for coronavirus patients.
Trump’s official physician, Sean Conley, said in a statement that the president and his wife “are both well at this time.”
“They plan to remain home at the White House during their convalescence,” he said. However, “I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”