Hours after senior White House adviser Hope Hicks was confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus, President Trump confirmed via Twitter that he and First Lady Melania Trump are also now among the 7.31 million Americans who have tested positive.
Hicks travelled on Air Force One with the president and other senior staff on Wednesday. After news of her positive test broke, Trump suggested without evidence that the virus had been transmitted to Hicks during hugs from law enforcement or military personnel.
Trump is not the first world leader to test positive for the virus — fellow authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Monaco’s Prince Alfred II have all been confirmed to have been infected with the illness. Johnson spent time in intensive care and his team prepared contingency plans in the case the PM did not survive.
But, along with Bolsonaro, Trump is one of the leaders who has publicly expressed skepticism about the virus’ severity. He has also repeatedly resisted taking precautions such as wearing a face mask, and as recently as this week mocked his Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Joe Biden, for wearing a mask.
In March, tapes of interviews with famed journalist Bob Woodward revealed that Trump knew that COVID-19 was more serious than his public statements suggested, and that by his own admission he was “play[ing] it down” to avoid “panic.” In late September, he told a crowded campaign rally the virus “affects virtually nobody.”
Trump says he and the First Lady are in quarantine, beginning “immediately.”
UPDATE: Oct. 2, 2020, 3:49 p.m. AEST Melania Trump has tweeted that she and the president are “feeling good.”
This story is developing….