S President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, in a shock development that threatened to disrupt his scheduled public appearances in the crucial final weeks of the election campaign.
Trump took to Twitter to break the news early on Friday. "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.
In a memo issued to reporters around 1 a.m. ET, the President's physician, Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley, wrote he received confirmation of the positive tests on Thursday evening.
Trump confirmed in an interview with Fox News that Hope Hicks, one of his closest confidantes, had tested positive.
Hicks was traveling with Trump on Air Force One just this Tuesday to fly to Cleveland for the first presidential debate with Democrat Joe Biden.
She was also with him on the Marine One helicopter Wednesday when he flew back to the White House after a rally in Minnesota.
US media, citing unnamed sources, said Hicks was isolated on the journey back from Minnesota after showing mild symptoms and tested positive Thursday morning.
Trump says the United States has put the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans, behind and he rarely wears a mask, noting that he receives frequent testing.
However, his own health experts have often given less rosy assessments and he has been sharply criticized by some for holding large rallies where few supporters wear masks.
Polls show most Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of the pandemic, a potentially decisive issue ahead of the November 3 election battle against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Supporters have voiced concerns about the president's backing in swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Biden aims to reclaim after Trump won them in 2016.
Asked about Hicks before Trump's comments, White House spokesman Judd Deere said "the president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously."
Deere said the White House takes care to follow procedures "for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is traveling."