Updated Oct. 2, 5:52 p.m.
Oct. 2, 2020 -- President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19.
The president revealed the news in an early Friday morning tweet, saying they will go into quarantine at the White House. Late Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump would spend the next "few days" at Walter Reed National Medical Military Center in Bethesda, MD, upon advice of his doctors and "out of an abundance of caution."
The hospital that traditionally services presidents has a suite of offices for the commander in chief. Trump, McEnany said, "remains in good spirits, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day."
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
“Thank you for the love you are sending our way. I have mild symptoms but overall feeling good. I am looking forward to a speedy recovery,” she said.
On Friday, Kevin O'Connor, MD, doctor to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife. Jill, announced that both were tested on Friday and that the test results were negative.
Biden took two COVID-19 tests Friday — one in Delaware and one with a former White House doctor, he said at an event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday afternoon.
“This is not a matter of politics,” Biden said of Trump’s positive coronavirus test. “It’s a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously. It’s not going away automatically. We have to do our part to be responsible.”
This includes wearing a mask in public, reminding others to do so, and having a nationwide mask mandate, Biden said.
Trump found out aide Hope Hicks had tested positive on Thursday but still got onto a helicopter and flew to a fundraiser in New Jersey, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Friday morning. Meadows didn't explain why Trump went ahead with the trip.
McEnany, the White House press secretary, told reporters Friday afternoon that it was “deemed safe” for Trump to travel to Bedminster on Thursday.
“White House operations made the assessment it was safe for the president, in consultation with others,” she said and then walked away without giving additional details.Meadows said White House staff got the news about Hicks as Marine One, the president's helicopter, was taking off.
“We pulled some of the people traveling in close contact,” Meadows said. Trump proceeded to his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, and addressed supporters inside and outside the facility. Local media reported that the event included a roundtable discussion as well as a photo line where guests could get pictures taken with the president.
Meadows said contact tracing was implemented right away, but it's unclear when other members of the White House staff learned of Hicks' positive test. The New Jersey Department of Health said Friday it is working with local officials to begin a contact tracing investigation.
Meadows said the administration acted quickly once Trump was diagnosed.
“As you know, last night, even in the early hours of this morning, the minute we got a confirmatory test on the President, we felt like it was important to get the news out there at that time, and so that's why we sent out a tweet late, late or early this morning,” he said.
The president's doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, DO, confirmed the Trumps' test results and said both were feeling well in a memo sent to reporters.
"The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country's greatest medical professionals and institutions," Conley wrote in the memo.
He said Trump will continue his work “without disruption” while recovering. CDC guidelines say that someone exposed to the virus should quarantine for 14 days.
Meadows said Trump is showing mild symptoms but is “on the job.” The New York Times reported later Friday that Trump had a "low-grade fever, nasal congestion and cough," according to two people close to the president. Conley, the president's doctor, said in a statement Friday afternoon that the president has been treated with an experimental antibody cocktail, zinc, vitamin D, a heartburn drug, melatonin and aspirin.
Conley said Melania Trump "remains well with only a mild cough and headache."
The president has previously suggested hydroxychloroquine can help people with coronavirus, though independent studies have shown the drug has little impact on COVID-19. The FDA previously withdrew emergency use authorization for the drug, which is used to treat lupus, arthritis, and malaria.
“Well, I'm not going to get into any particular treatment that he may or may not have but he has mild symptoms. As we look at that, the doctor will continue to provide expertise in the residence,” Meadows said. “He's in the residence now, and in a true fashion he's probably critiquing the way that I'm answering these questions.”
Meadows didn't wear a mask as he stood outside the White House. The Associated Press reported that masks will continue to be optional for White House employees and also will not change its testing protocols despite the current test failing to detect that Hicks had the virus.
Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, was given a clean bill of health and is free to travel and campaign. Pence's debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is still set for Wednesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates said, according to The Associated Press.
Under CDC guidelines, “the vice president is not considered a close contact with any individuals who have tested positive for COVID, including President Donald J. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence does not need to quarantine,” said Navy Lt. Commander Jesse Schonau, MD, a White House doctor.
The Trump campaign on Friday said that “all previously announced campaign events involving the president’s participation are in the process of being moved to virtual events or are being temporarily postponed.” Pence, however, could serve as Trump's surrogate at some events.
Former CDC Director Tom Frieden said the first family's diagnosis "is a reminder that COVID-19 is an ongoing threat to our country and can happen to anyone."
"This event demonstrates that we need a comprehensive approach to COVID-19," Frieden said in a statement to WebMD. "Testing does not replace safety measures including consistent mask use, physical distancing, and hand washing. Learning more about when President Trump and others with whom he had contact last tested negative and first tested positive will help understand this outbreak and limit the risk of further spread.”
The New York Times also reported Friday that Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has tested positive and is experiencing mild symptoms. Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamal Harris tested negative on Thursday, Politico reported, adding that the Biden campaign planned to give rapid coronavirus tests to everyone on their team who attended the debate.
Both Biden and Harris sent wishes via Twitter that the Trumps recovery quickly.
At 74, Trump is considered to be at higher risk for the disease. He weighed 244 pounds at his most recent physical, a weight that is considered obese for his height. Obesity is also a risk factor for more a more severe case of COVID-19.
Hicks had traveled with the president to Tuesday's night debate in Cleveland. She was also with Trump at a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. The president told Fox News on Thursday night that she may have gotten the virus by interacting with a supporter at a rally.
Tuesday's debate was sponsored by Cleveland Clinic. On Friday, in a statement, hospital officials said they required temperature checks, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and the use of masks during the debate. However, many of Trump's children and their families were seen without masks and sitting near the stage.
"Most importantly, everyone permitted inside the debate hall tested negative for COVID-19 prior to entry," the hospital's statement said. "Individuals traveling with both candidates, including the candidates themselves, had been tested and tested negative by their respective campaigns."
The statement said there was low risk of exposure to anyone at the debate yet they are contacting everyone who attended.
Nearly 7.3 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and more than 207,000 have died.
Public health experts and CDC guidelines say measures such as avoiding large crowds, social distancing, and wearing face masks can help prevent the spread. Outdoor events are considered less risky than indoor ones.
Trump is rarely seen in public wearing a mask and has campaigned at large rallies in recent days, mostly outdoors.
Trump had been scheduled to receive an intelligence briefing on Friday, host a phone call with governors to discuss seniors vulnerable to COVID-19, to attend a fundraiser in Washington, and then to fly to Florida for a rally. After his diagnosis, his schedule was changed and all that remains is the phone call. But The New York Times reported that Pence took Trump's place on the call.
Other world leaders who've tested positive for the coronavirus include British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Both men recovered. Johnson was hospitalized for a week in April and spent some time in intensive care. Bolsonaro announced in July he had the virus and told reporters, “There's no reason for fear. That's life. Life goes on.”
Staff Writers Brenda Goodman, Valarie Basehda and Aaron Gould Sheinin contributed to this report.