What We Know About Trump Contracting The Coronavirus

Johnny Nguyen 09:20

The president announced early Friday that he and Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19.

President Donald Trump announced early Friday that both he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, and that they will currently self-isolate. 

The White House has provided few details about the president’s diagnosis, leading to rampant online speculation and the potential for misinformation to spread. The complete list of who Trump has been in contact with over the past week remains unknown, and questions are swirling about the implications of this news for the presidential election, which is only 32 days away. 

Here is what we know so far.

Is the president showing symptoms?

Trump is showing mild symptoms, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Friday. Melania Trump tweeted that she has mild symptoms as well.

It is unclear exactly when Trump started showing symptoms, which can appear up to two weeks after exposure to the virus. Trump currently has cold-like symptoms, according to one person with knowledge of the situation who spoke with The New York Times. 

Was Biden exposed?

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would take a COVID-19 test on Friday after Trump’s announcement. It is currently unclear if he was exposed to the virus by Trump, although medical experts say it is a possibility.

On Tuesday, Biden and Trump shared a stage for 90 minutes at the presidential debate, standing roughly 9 feet apart, but there are no reports that they shared any private meetings or were in closer proximity. Debate moderator Chris Wallace also announced on Friday that he will be tested for the virus.

Was Amy Coney Barrett exposed? Will this delay her confirmation? 

Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday, according to the White House. 

Barrett met with the president on Saturday at the White House following his nomination, and is currently set for a confirmation hearing on Oct. 12.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted on Friday that it would be “full steam ahead” with Barrett’s nomination process.

Was any other White House staff exposed?

Trump had a busy week of travel, fundraisers and rallies before his announcement on Friday. He came into close contact with multiple staffers, often in enclosed spaces and without a mask, leaving them at risk of exposure to the virus. Multiple White House officials have announced that they are being tested or have received Covid-19 tests, and there are ongoing updates about their results.

Here are some of the Trump associates that have been in recent contact with the president and what we know about their status:

  • Senior adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus on Thursday. Trump tweeted about Hicks’ testing positive on Thursday night, just hours before releasing his statement that he had contracted COVID-19. 
  • Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence announced on Friday that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
  • Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has tested negative, according to the White House.
  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have both tested negative. 
  • Trump’s youngest son, Barron Trump, has tested negative.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has tested negative.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has tested negative.
  • Attorney General William Barr has tested negative.
  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has tested negative.
  • Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is awaiting results.

It is unclear who else the president came into close contact with during the past week, which included a fundraiser on Thursday at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

What happens to the rest of the debates?

It is unclear how Trump’s announcement will affect the remaining two presidential debates, which are scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 29. People who become sick with the coronavirus are generally required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days ― which in Trump’s case would extend past the Oct. 15 debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, an independent body, had not released any statements regarding the situation as of Friday morning. 

Can we trust the White House about Trump’s medical status?

The lack of details around Trump’s medical status and his late night announcement have fueled rampant speculation and conspiracy theories. Misinformation tends to thrive when there are gaps in knowledge around news events, and while there are questions about White House transparency surrounding Trump’s health there is no evidence that it is a hoax or otherwise politically motivated stunt. 

The White House does have a responsibility to keep the public informed about the health of the president. It is not uncommon for governments to downplay concerns about the health of their leaders. In the United Kingdom, government officials initially assured the public that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in fairly good health and only exhibiting mild symptoms. Privately, officials had more serious concerns, however, and Johnson eventually required time in an intensive care unit to recover. 


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