Trump in quarantine as Covid diagnosis throws US into fresh upheaval
America’s leadership has been plunged into extraordinary uncertainty after Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, raising questions over how far the infection has penetrated the heart of government.
Donald and Melania Trump showing ‘mild’ Covid symptoms as Joe and Jill Biden test negative — live
The US president continued to carry out his duties under quarantine from the White House residence on Friday and was showing “mild symptoms” of Covid-19, an official said.
But the virus can take several days to manifest fully and Trump, aged 74 and clinically obese, is medically vulnerable. Should he be incapacitated, Mike Pence, the vice-president, who has tested negative, would take over. A presidential election takes place on 3 November.
Trump, who has spent months defying science and downplaying the threat of a virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans, was also facing criticism for pressing ahead with a campaign fundraising event after learning that a senior aide, Hope Hicks, had tested positive.
One attendee said the president came into contact with about a hundred people at the fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday and “seemed lethargic”, the New York Times reported.
Trump has travelled extensively in recent days, to a presidential debate, a campaign rally and the fundraiser. A scramble was under way to test those who have been with him at close quarters. But how far the virus may have spread in the highest levels of government will be hard to establish quickly because it can take days for an infection to be detectable.
First Lady Melania Trump also tested positive and tweeted: “I have mild symptoms but overall feeling good. I am looking forward to a speedy recovery.”
The White House moved on Friday to assuage fears of a constitutional and national security crisis. “The president does have mild symptoms and as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the American people,” Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, told reporters.
“He continues to be not only in good spirits but very energetic. We’ve talked a number of times this morning, I’ve got the five or six things he tasked me to do, like I do every single morning and he is certainly wanting to make sure we stay engaged.”
Meadows, not wearing a face mask, said Trump was in his residence and his first questions in their conversation were about the economy. He declined to offer details of what medical treatments the president is receiving.
“The American people can rest assured that we have a president that is not only on the job, will remain on the job, and I’m optimistic that he’ll have a very quick and speedy recovery,” he added.