Updated: Trump tests positive for COVID-19, Biden tests negative

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This story will continue to be updated. Last update: 12:26 pm., 10/2/20

President Donald Trump tweeted early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19, throwing the presidential campaign into a new uproar.

“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted.

Late Thursday, Bloomberg News had reported that Hope Hicks, a close aide to Trump, had tested positive for the virus. Hicks had traveled to and from Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland on Air Force One with Trump and also traveled to Minnesota with him, Bloomberg said.

Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tweeted that Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative for the virus on Friday morning.

A memo from Dr. Sean P. Conley, the president’s physician, said he received information on Thursday night that the president, who at 74 would be at high risk for complications from the virus, and Melania had tested positive for COVID-19.

“The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” Conley wrote.

Trump mocks masks, blasts state COVID-19 shutdowns in 1st debate

“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,” he said. “Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”

Trump’s updated schedule for Friday includes hosting a 12:15 p.m. phone call on COVID-19 support for vulnerable seniors.

The president’s positive test result comes days after he and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden shared the debate stage Tuesday evening. The two men did not shake hands and stayed on opposite sides of the stage, which was in a large atrium on Case Western Reserve University’s campus.

Official safety precautions for that event, co-hosted by the Cleveland Clinic, largely focused on the audience, which was much smaller than usual for a presidential debate. The roughly 80 audience seats were spaced out from each other, and those seated had to test negative for coronavirus. Those in the audience could be seen wearing masks, with the exception of Trump’s family members and top aides.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who shared a debate stage with Trump on Tuesday, posted on Twitter Friday morning, wishing the president a swift recovery.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” Biden tweeted. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

MSNBC reports that Biden and former second lady Jill Biden have both tested negative for coronavirus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday morning that she was praying for the president and his family, adding that she hoped the “tragic” situation would prompt “a transition to a saner approach” to minimizing the risk of infection.

“Maybe now that people who see the president of the United States with all the protection that he has, and the First Lady, still having this exposure, it might be … a learning experience,” Pelosi said during an interview on MSNBC. “But more than learning, it has to be something that’s acted upon.”

Pelosi said she was tested Friday out of “an abundance of caution,” but did not have the result yet. Her only contact with White House officials in recent days was negotiating over another coronavirus relief package with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who announced he had a negative test Friday morning.

A White House spokeswoman tweeted Friday morning that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who were both in the debate audience, tested negative Friday morning.

Reactions have not come in as of publication from many Republicans in Michigan, but Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox tweeted that she is “sending her Prayers” to the Trumps.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Twp.) sent “best wishes” to the Trumps.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a lengthy statement.

“I want to start by wishing the president and first lady a speedy recovery. COVID-19 is the most dangerous public health crisis America has faced in 100 years. It is still present in our communities. It is still spreading. And people are still dying from it every single day. This virus doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, a Republican or a Democrat, young or old. No one is immune. Not even the president,” Whitmer said.

“… My sincere hope is that today’s news will serve as a wakeup call to every single American. Right now all 50 states and the federal government have some kind of declared state of emergency. We are all in this together. Let’s all do our part. Let’s all mask up. And let’s get through this together, as one nation.”

Other Democrats weighed in on Twitter, including U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) wished the Trumps to “quickly recover” from this “serious, real and deadly virus.”

State Rep. Matt Kolezar (D-Plymouth), who criticized legislative leadership this week for the lack of transparency around the COVID-19 diagnosis of Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), said he hopes this is a “wake up call” for lawmakers to wear masks.

Jane Norman
Jane as the Washington Bureau Chief directs national coverage, managing staff and freelance reporters in the nation’s capital and assigning and editing state-specific daily and enterprise stories.Jane is a veteran of more than three decades in journalism. Before coming to States Newsroom, she edited news coverage of national education policy and the congressional budget and appropriations process for Politico.
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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.