NEW DELHI, Oct 2: In the middle of the campaign for the United States presidential elections due next month, the president Donald Trump and the first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19. They have gone into quarantine immediately, the president tweeted late on Thursday.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” Trump said in the tweet, less than two hours after posting that his close aide Hope Hicks had tested positive. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
The tweet raised immediate concerns about the health of the president, who is more than 70 years of age and obese.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday wished a quick recovery and good health to his ‘friend,’ Trump and his wife Melania. “Wishing my friend @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a quick recovery health,” the prime minister tweeted just minutes after the US president announced he and his wife had tested positive for Covid-19.
Trump had earlier in the evening tweeted he and the first lady began “our quarantine process” after one of his closest advisers, Hope Hicks, who had travelled with him several times in the last few days, tested positive .
“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19,” President Trump tweeted. “Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!”
Hicks had travelled with Trump and his team on Air Force One to Cleveland, Ohio for the first presidential debate. She also travelled with Trump to his rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday and was seen in close contact with senior members of the president’s campaign. Reports available here said Hicks had felt ill in Minnesota and quarantined herself on the way back on the presidential aircraft.
“The president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously,” White House spokesman Judd Deere has said in a statement.
“White House Operations collaborates with the physician to the president and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) guidance and best practices for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible, both on complex and when the president is travelling,” the spokesman said.
Hicks is the fourth White House personnel to test positive for Coronavirus, after a personal military valet of the president, a member of the vice-president’s staff and the National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. But Hicks has been the closest of them all to the president.
More than 207,000 Americans have been killed by Covid-19 and millions have been infected. Trump had always been skeptical about the use of face masks and social distancing norms. He rarely wore one himself despite professing his complete endorsement of masks. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has emerged as a major issue ahead of November’s presidential polls. During the first presidential debate on Tuesday, he was severely criticised by his Democratic Party rival, Joe Biden, for the alleged “mishandling” of the Corona pandemic and the country’s “devastated economy.”
Trump’s positive test result could pose immediate difficulties for the future of his campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger, little more than a month before the election on November 3. Even if Trump, 74, remains asymptomatic, he will have to withdraw from the campaign trail and stay isolated in the White House for an unknown period of time. If he becomes sick, it could raise questions about whether he should remain on the ballot at all.
Even if he does not become seriously ill, the positive test could prove devastating to his political fortunes given his months of diminishing the seriousness of the pandemic even as the virus was still ravaging the country and killing about 1,000 Americans every day. He has repeatedly predicted the virus “is going to disappear,” asserted that it was under control and insisted that the country was “rounding the corner” to the end of the crisis. He has scorned scientists, saying they were mistaken on the severity of the situation.
It is also likely to undercut his effort to change the subject away from a pandemic that polls show most Americans believe he has mishandled and onto political terrain he considers more favorable. Trump has sought to focus voter attention instead on violence in cities, his Supreme Court nomination, mail-in ballots and Biden’s relationship with liberals.