Donald Trump and his wife Melania have tested positive for coronavirus, injecting new uncertainty into the turbulent US election campaign and sending officials scrambling to discover who else in the president’s orbit may be infected. Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, said that Mr Trump was exhibiting “mild symptoms” of coronavirus and that a doctor was attending to him. Later on Friday, Sean Conley, the White House physician, said the president “remains fatigued but in good spirits”.
The White House said Mike Pence, the vice-president who would take over if Mr Trump could not perform his duties, tested negative on Friday. Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate who debated Mr Trump on stage in Cleveland this week, said he and his wife Jill had tested negative.
US stocks stumbled on the diagnosis, with Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closing down nearly 1 percent. Investors were already bracing themselves for more volatility following Mr Trump’s recent refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event that he loses the election.
Wall Street’s Vix volatility index rose to 27.5, above its long-term average of about 20. Futures contracts also pointed to heightened expectations of turbulence in November and December. A signed memo from Dr Conley confirmed that both Mr Trump and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday evening.
White House physician says the president Donald Trump was treated with an ‘antibody cocktail’ as a precaution
The White House physician, who said he expected Mr Trump “to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering”, issued a memorandum on Friday afternoon saying the president had been treated with an “antibody cocktail” as a “precautionary measure”.
It is unclear if Mr Trump’s quarantine period will end by the next presidential debate on October 15, or if it will impact his ability to campaign in the final month of the race. Mr Trump has started increasing rallies as he trails behind Joe Biden in both national polls and most swing states.
His campaign strategy has been to ignore or downplay Covid-19 in recent months after criticism of his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 207,000 Americans according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has confirmed 7.2m cases of coronavirus.
Mr Trump was tested for the virus after Hope Hicks, a close aide who frequently travels with him to events on Air Force One, tested positive less than 48 hours after he shared the debate with Mr Biden in Cleveland, Ohio. Attendees at a fundraiser held by Mr Trump at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday, were told to seek coronavirus tests.
Mr Trump’s diagnosis represents a critical moment in his presidency. While most people who contract the virus recover, it has taken the worst toll on Americans aged 65 and over. Mr Trump is 74 and Mr Biden 77.