(CNN) – President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he and his wife both tested positive for the coronavirus, an extraordinary development coming months into a global pandemic and in the final stretch of his reelection campaign in which he has flouted experts’ guidance on preventing the disease’s spread.
The diagnosis amounts to the most serious known health threat to a sitting American president in decades. At 74 years old and obese, Trump falls into the highest risk category for serious complications from the disease, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans and more than 1 million people worldwide.
His infection with the disease could prove destabilizing in an already fraught political climate, and stock market futures tumbled on news of Trump’s infection.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted shortly before 1 a.m. Friday.
Later, the first lady wrote on Twitter that she and her husband were “feeling good.”
Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon, returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey. He did not appear ill, though he did not speak to reporters as he walked into his residence.close dialog
In a memo issued to reporters around 1 a.m. ET, the President’s physician, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, wrote that he received confirmation of the positive tests on Thursday evening.
“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.
“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, without elaborating what assistance was being provided to the White House.
“Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any further developments,” he wrote.
The President had said late Thursday night that he planned to quarantine after one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the infection, bringing the disease into his innermost circle. Earlier in the night, he had downplayed the virus’ continued spread.
“The end of the pandemic is in sight,” he said during prerecorded remarks at the annual Al Smith dinner, held virtually because of the health crisis.
Ignoring the science
While the White House frequently touts its extensive testing regimen for the President and those who come into close proximity with him — aides have deemed him the “most tested man in the country” — the infections underscored the shortcomings in relying on tests alone to prevent contagion.
Trump and many of his aides have eschewed practices like social distancing and mask wearing. At Tuesday evening’s presidential debate, the President mocked his rival, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, for frequently wearing a mask.
After announcing the President’s diagnosis, the White House issued a new schedule to reflect several canceled events on Friday, including a fundraiser in Washington and a campaign rally in Florida.
The scrubbed plans were the most immediate effects of the President’s diagnosis on the presidential campaign, which has centered largely on the pandemic and the President’s response to it. Trump has frequently sought to paint a rosy picture of the current situation, including just hours before he announced his diagnosis.
Trump has also repeatedly insisted the country is “rounding the corner” on the disease and claimed the virus would “disappear,” though even health experts within his own administration said those claims did not reflect reality.