- President Trump confirmed on Thursday that he and First Lady Melania Trump were infected with the novel coronavirus.
- The White House physician issued a letter to confirm the COVID-19 diagnosis, and to say the president and his wife are “both well” and plan to remain at home within the White House during the convalescence.
- Experts say that the president’s age and weight are risk factors for COVID-19 complications, even though Trump might not be experiencing any symptoms at the onset of the illness.
In an unexpected turn of events, President Trump late Thursday night confirmed that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. The news followed a previous update that said one of Trump’s closest aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for coronavirus. The president issued an initial statement after Trump confirmed the positive diagnosis, without disclosing whether the president or his wife were displaying symptoms. “The president and first lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence. Rest assured, I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments,” the statement read. Since then, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley released a full letter about Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, which you can read below.
The letter maintains the same tone, saying that the president and first lady are both well and will stay in quarantine during their recovery:
MEMORANDUM FOR: KAYLEIGH MCENANY, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY
FROM: SEAN P. CONLEY, DO, FACEP, PHYSICIAN TO THE PRESIDENT, COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY
SUBJECT: President Donald J. Trump & First Lady Melania Trump’s COVID-19 Tests
I release the following information with the permission of President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.
This evening I received confirmation that both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.
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.
Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.
Trump is the latest prominent political figure to have contracted the illness. UK prime minister Boris Johnson survived COVID, as did Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro.
Trump’s stance on COVID-19 will probably turn his coronavirus case into one of the most followed stories in the world. Trump has downplayed the virus for months, with Bob Woodward’s recent revelations showing that Trump knew well the risks of COVID-19, despite what he told the public. Trump maintained the virus will disappear suddenly in the early months of the pandemic. He advocated for the reopening of the economy and resisted wearing face masks until recently. Still, he made a point of addressing masks during the first presidential debate against Biden, criticizing the Democratic nominee. “I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,” Trump said during the debate. “He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Reports earlier this year revealed the complex health apparatus that protects Trump from being infected, saying that Trump privately worries about the optics of him being infected. Trump was often criticized for the American response to the pandemic. The country has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world (nearly 7.5 million) and deaths (over 212,000).
Some experts now warn that his age and weight may lead to COVID-19 complications. “He’s at a much higher risk of dying if he does develop that bad pneumonia,” Dr. Barry Dixon told The Guardian. “There are other risk factors and co-morbidities, such as whether you are a heavy smoker, have diabetes, or have heart disease. The key risk factors for Trump that we know about are his age and the fact he’s overweight, and they’d be high-risk factors.” Dixon is an intensive care physician at St. Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne.
The doctor added that mild symptoms at onset were not an indicator that someone would avoid severe COVID-19. “If you see someone who just got it, they’ve just tested positive, typically they look well. But we would tell those patients to isolate at home and to come to hospital if they feel short of breath. Because in that second week of the virus, people can go from looking very good to pretty rotten even over just 24 to 48 hours,” he said. “It’s a quick deterioration, and that’s what we saw with [British prime minister] Boris Johnson.”
Other experts also noted that Trump might suffer from other health problems that he might not want to divulge, but which could be risk factors for COVID-19 complications. Also, men are more likely to die following COVID-19 complications.
On the other hand, doctors who have been managing COVID-19 patients in the past nine months have learned how to treat patients with complications, and the death rate curve did not follow the infection curve during the summer spikes. Several drugs have proven to be efficient along the way, including remdesivir dexamethasone (and other steroids), plasma (in certain conditions), and blood thinners. The drug that Trump promoted heavily, especially in the early months of the pandemic, hasn’t proven to be effective.
It’s unclear at this time whether Trump and the first lady have received any sort of COVID-19 treatment.