Donald Trump and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus

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Donald Trump and his wife Melania have tested positive for the coronavirus and will be quarantined, injecting new uncertainty into a turbulent election campaign and sending officials to scramble to find out who else in the president’s orbit could be infected .

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Mr Trump had “mild symptoms” of coronavirus and a doctor was treating him at his home.

Vice President Mike Pence, who would take over if Mr. Trump was unable to take office, tested negative on Friday, the White House said.

M. Trump revealed his test result in a tweet in the early hours of Friday. “Tonight @FLOTUS and I have tested positive for COVID-19,” he wrote. “We will immediately begin our quarantine and recovery process. We are going to go through this TOGETHER!

A note signed by the president’s doctor confirmed that the president and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday evening.

“The President and the First Lady are doing well right now, and they plan to stay at home in the White House while they recover,” said Dr Sean Conley. “I expect the President to continue to perform his duties without interruption while recovering.”

Mr Meadows told Fox News on Friday morning he tested negative, as did Mr Trump’s son-in-law and aide Jared Kushner and Dan Scavino, the deputy chief of staff for communications.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump’s quarantine would end with the next presidential debate on October 15, or how that would impact his ability to campaign in the final month of the race. Mr. Trump had started ramping up rallies as he followed Joe Biden in national polls and in most swing states.

Mr. Trump’s campaign strategy has been to ignore or downplay Covid-19 in recent months amid criticism of his handling of the crisis, which has killed more than 207,000 Americans according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has confirmed 7.2 million cases of the coronavirus.

Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides, tested positive for coronavirus, having traveled with him for 2 days © Leah Millis / Reuters

In the early days of the pandemic, Mr Trump said the virus would go away “like a miracle.” He also made statements ridiculed and criticized by scientists, including that people can protect themselves by injecting themselves with disinfectant.

In recent weeks he has faced further criticism after Bob Woodward wrote in his new book, Rage, which Mr. Trump had privately acknowledged the threat of the virus while telling the public there was no mass concern.

“I always wanted to downplay it,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Woodward in an interview.

On Thursday evening, Mr. Biden accused Mr. Trump of doing “whatever he can to distract” people from “his failed response to Covid-19.” On Friday morning, however, he sent his best wishes to his White House rival.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a speedy recovery,” Mr. Biden tweeted.

Mr Trump also questioned the effectiveness of the masks – despite advice to the contrary from his own experts – and suggested that wearing them made some people, such as waiters, more likely to transmit the disease.

In the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump mocked Mr. Biden for almost always wearing a mask. “Every time you see him he’s got a mask,” he said, as the two stood on stage without a mask. “He could talk 200 yards away. . . and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.

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 sharing the debate with Mr Biden in Cleveland , Ohio.

Attendees of a fundraiser Mr Trump hosted at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey on Thursday were asked to look for coronavirus tests.

“We urge everyone who attended yesterday’s event in Bedminster to take all necessary precautions, including quarantine and testing # COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININENew Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a tweet.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the president had mild symptoms of coronavirus © Bloomberg

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has held several large rallies per week – a campaign style that helped propel him to the White House in 2016 – despite criticism from public health experts who warn such events are helping to spread disease, especially when many in the public do not wear masks.

Mr Trump insisted during the debate that his rallies had no impact on the spread of the virus. “We had no negative effect, and we had 35 to 40,000 people at some of these gatherings,” said the president.

Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate who attended a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this summer, contracted the virus and died.

Video: US Election 2020: Coronavirus and Battlefield StatesVideo: US Election 2020: Coronavirus and Battlefield States

Ms Hicks went with Mr Trump to the debate, which was also attended by her adult children, some of whom were pictured not wearing masks. She also accompanied him to a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday, but was quarantined on the return flight after showing symptoms, US media reported.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives who is second to take the presidency if the president and vice president were both incapacitated, said on Friday morning that she had been tested and was awaiting the result.

Ms Pelosi has not met Mr Trump recently, but has negotiated with Steven Mnuchin, the Secretary of the Treasury. A spokesperson for the Treasury said Mr Mnuchin was tested on Friday morning and was negative.

Mr. Trump’s diagnosis represents a critical moment in his presidency. While most people who contract the virus recover, Americans aged 65 and over are most affected. Mr. Trump is 74 and Mr. Biden 77.

Mr. Trump was scheduled to hold a rally in Florida on Friday night, followed by two rallies in Wisconsin on Saturday. The White House released a revised schedule for the president on Friday morning canceling all public events.

Additional reporting by Peter Wells in New York and Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong

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