The White House says President Donald Trump will spend a few days at a military hospital on the advice of his physicians after contracting COVID-19.
Trump is to depart the White House by helicopter on Friday for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The White House says the visit is precautionary and that Trump will work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to continue his official duties.
Trump had earlier been injected with an experimental antibody cocktail for the virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans and spread to the highest reaches of the US government.
Just a month before the presidential election, the revelation came in a Trump tweet about 1am after he had returned from an afternoon political fundraiser.
He had gone ahead, saying nothing to the crowd though knowing he had been exposed to an aide with the disease that has infected millions in America and killed more than a million people worldwide.
First lady Melania Trump also tested positive, the president said, and several others in the White House have also, prompting concern that the White House or even Trump himself might have spread the virus further.
Trump, 74, has spent much of the year downplaying the threat of the virus, rarely wearing a protective mask and urging states and cities to reopen and reduce or eliminate shutdown rules.
The president’s physician said in a memo on Friday that Trump received a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail by Regeneron that is in clinical trials.
Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley said Trump “remains fatigued but in good spirits” and that a team of experts was evaluating both the president and first lady in regard to next steps.
The first lady, 50, has a “mild cough and headache,” Conley reported, and the remainder of the first family, including the Trumps’ son Barron, who lives at the White House, tested negative.
Both Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have tested negative, their campaign said.
Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for the virus on Friday morning and “remains in good health,” his spokesman said.
Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was with him and many others on Saturday and has been on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers, also tested negative, the White House said.
Trump’s diagnosis was sure to have a destabilising effect in Washington and around the world, raising questions about how far the virus has spread through the highest levels of the US government.
Hours before Trump announced he had contracted the virus, the White House said a top aide who had travelled with him during the week had tested positive.
“Tonight, (at)FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” Trump tweeted just before 1am
“We will get through this TOGETHER!”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday tried to assure the public that Trump was conducting business as usual, even as he confirmed that the White House knew Hope Hicks, the aide, had tested positive before Trump attended a Thursday fundraiser in New Jersey.
“I can tell you in terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as Marine One was taking off yesterday,” said Meadows. Several staffers were pulled from the trip, but Trump did not cancel and there was no direct evidence that her illness was connected to his.
Many White House and senior administration officials were undergoing tests on Friday, but the full scale of the outbreak around the president may not be known for some time as it can take days for an infection to be detectable by a test.
Officials with the White House Medical Unit were tracing the president’s contacts.
Trump’s reelection campaign said it was putting on hold all events featuring Trump and members of his family but that Pence would resume campaigning since he tested negative.
Photo credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com