Trump, First Lady Test Positive for Coronavirus; Trump Enters Hospital

October 2, 2020

President Donald Trump is showing symptoms after testing positive for the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019. He received an experimental antibody cocktail and was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center.

This story has been updated.

President Donald Trump, 74, said early Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement late Friday to reporters that Trump would work from the offices at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the next few days “out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts.”

Shortly afterward, he flew aboard Marine One and entered the medical center in Bethesda, Maryland. The trip to the hospital was a shift from the initial announcement from the White House that the Trumps planned to recover at home.

The president is showing mild symptoms, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, had said earlier in the day; various media reports said the president had a cough, fever, and congestion.

In addition, Trump received a single 8-g dose of Regeneron’s investigative cocktail of 2 monoclonal antibodies, REGN-COV2, as a “precautionary measure,” according to the White House physician, Sean Conley, MD.

Trial results released this week linked the antibody cocktail to quicker recovery and reduced viral load, but it has not yet received an emergency use authorization from the FDA. Regeneron confirmed that the president received the dose under a compassionate use request from his physicians.

In a very short video taped before leaving for the hospital, Trump said, “I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out.”

According to The New York Times and CNN, Trump may have been symptomatic Thursday when he traveled to New Jersey to meet with supporters.

The news came just hours after one of his closest advisers tested positive and is a stunning announcement that plunges the country deeper into uncertainty 32 days before the presidential election.

Trump, who has spent most of 2020 downplaying the threat of a virus that has killed more than 208,000 Americans, initially was quarantining with Mrs. Trump, 50, at the White House after his positive test.

Other advisers, staff, and campaign staff have been infected over the past few months; on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other officials had been tested and received negative results.

Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court and who appeared with Trump last Saturday, was also tested and is negative.

On Tuesday night, Trump debated Democratic candidate Joe Biden, with the president mocking the former vice president for wearing a mask.

“I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said of Biden. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, PhD, were tested Friday morning, and Biden tweeted after noon that both tests had been negative. The Biden campaign also told CNN that they were not informed by the Trump campaign of possible exposure.

Despite the news, CNN reported Friday that inside the White House, where political appointees have been at odds with career scientists at HHS and the CDC, staffers were still not wearing masks.

Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, said Friday morning that staffers only paused to put masks on when they saw him approach.

Trump was last seen returning to the White House on Thursday evening and did not appear visibly ill. His age puts him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide. In addition to his age, Trump reportedly has high cholesterol and is considered clinically obese for his height—another risk factor for more severe cases of COVID-19.

Trump is not the first world leader to test positive for the virus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent 3 nights in an intensive care unit as part of a week-long hospital stay. Other infected world leaders include Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was hospitalized last month while fighting what he called a “hellish” case of COVID-19.

Hope Hicks, one of his closest aides, was diagnosed with the virus earlier Thursday. She was aboard Air Force One with the president Wednesday, and on Tuesday, was with Trump and other senior staff aboard Marine One and Air Force One. Hicks and the Trump family did not wear masks during the debate, in violation of the venue rules in Cleveland.

While the majority of infections are mild, those with certain comorbidities, who are of older age, or who are Black or Hispanic, face higher risk. Moreover, scientists are still trying to understand why some people have long-lasting effects for months after infection.