President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, the President announced early Friday morning, an extraordinary development coming months into a global pandemic and in the final stretch of his reelection campaign.
"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 am Friday.
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.
"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 tested positive for the infection.
"Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!" Trump tweeted Thursday night.
Hicks has traveled with the President multiple times recently, including to the debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, and was seen boarding Marine One, along with several other of the President's closest aides -- Jared Kushner, Dan Scavino and Nicholas Luna -- none of whom wore masks, on Wednesday as Trump was heading to a campaign rally in Minnesota.
"She did test positive, I just heard about this. She tested positive. She's a hard worker. Lot of masks, she wears masks a lot but she tested positive. Then I just went out with a test. I'll see -- you know, because we spent a lot of time -- and the first lady just went out with a test also. So whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don't know," Trump said during a call-in appearance on Fox News' "Hannity."
He added, "I just went for a test and we'll see what happens, I mean, who knows. ... I spent a lot of time with Hope and so does the first lady, and she's tremendous."
While it's unclear what the President's "quarantine process" will look like, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that a 14-day quarantine should take place after the last known exposure to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. This is because the incubation period for the novel coronavirus can be up to two weeks.
News of Hicks' positive test comes amid continued efforts by the Trump administration to blatantly disregard science and best public health practices during the pandemic, with West Wing staff actively eschewing masks and the President defying recommendations from his own coronavirus task force, proceeding with a busy schedule of packed campaign ralies. Trump and his key aides have shown little interest in changing practices of his staff to meet the needs of the moment.
Trump, in his Fox News interview, speculated that Hicks could have contracted the virus from an interaction with a supporter.
"She's a very warm person. She has a hard time, when soldiers and law enforcement comes up to her, you know, she wants to treat them great, not say, 'Stay away, I can't get near you.' It's a very, very tough disease," he said.
A source close to Hicks told CNN that she is experiencing symptoms and is back in Washington. A source familiar with Hicks' symptoms describes her as being achy and feeling pretty bad. CNN has reached out to Hicks for comment.
"The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously," White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNN in a statement when asked about the level of contact between Hicks and Trump.
The White House made no mention of Hicks by name, nor did it confirm she had tested positive.
"White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling," Deere added.
This development was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Long seen as a stabilizing force on a boss who likes chaos, Hicks joined the T