Monday 5 October 2020

Trump tests positive for coronavirus – what we know and don't know

The US president and first lady, Melania Trump, have tested positive for coronavirus and will begin quarantine

What we know

  • Donald Trump and Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus. The news came after one of the president’s most senior advisers, Hope Hicks, tested positive late on Wednesday. Trump broke the news of the couple’s infection on Twitter.
  • Trump canceled travel to Florida for a planned campaign event. The severity of Covid-19 cases varies widely and it was not clear whether the president felt ill.
  • The diagnosis left the next steps in the presidential campaign in doubt and led to a scramble for testing on Capitol Hill, where elected officials have been planning confirmation hearings for supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
  • If Trump becomes too ill to lead the country, the vice-president, Mike Pence, could be placed in charge under a constitutional provision. Pence and his wife tested negative on Friday, a spokesperson announced.
  • The Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, released a statement of support: “Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.” Biden was reportedly due to take a Covid-19 test shortly.
  • Hicks had flown with the president on Air Force One earlier on Wednesday and accompanied him to the first presidential debate on Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • The CDC guidelines for people who have tested positive state that they should inform all close contacts.
  • Pence attended a White House coronavirus taskforce briefing with Trump on Monday. Pence did not attend the presidential debate.
  • Hicks is not the only White House staffer to have contracted the virus. Katie Miller, press secretary to the vice-president, who is married to Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller, has recovered from Covid-19. One of Trump’s personal valets also tested positive for coronavirus, in May.

Donald and Melania Trump at the airport in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday. The president and first lady have both tested positive for Covid-19. Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

What we don’t know

  • How long the virus has been circulating in the White House. Close aides to Trump told Bloomberg he seemed ill as early as Wednesday. According to the World Health Organization, it takes five or six days on average from when someone is infected until symptoms show, but it can take 14 days. It appears Hicks began to feel ill on Wednesday.
  • If any of the people Trump came close to in the last week, including Biden at Tuesday’s debate, have become infected. Trump also attended a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday and a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club on Thursday, the latter after Hicks had begun to show symptoms.

(Source: The Guardian)

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