Trump shows COVID-19 symptoms as positive test rocks White House, campaign

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is experiencing mild symptoms but will keep working after testing positive for the coronavirus, administration officials said on Friday, as the White House and presidential election campaign scrambled to adjust to the bombshell development.

Trump, who has played down the threat of the coronavirus pandemic from the outset, said he and his wife Melania were going into quarantine after testing positive for the virus, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans and dealt severe damage to the U.S. economy.

Trump is not incapacitated and is working in isolation to avoid infecting others, officials said. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the president, 74, was exhibiting mild symptoms. They gave no more details about his condition.

“We have a president that is not only on the job but will remain on the job and I’m optimistic that he will have a very quick and speedy recovery,” Meadows told reporters.

An active Twitter user, Trump has not posted any messages since announcing his positive test early Friday morning.

Stocks on Wall Street fell almost 1% on news of one of the biggest health scares involving an American president for decades.

The president’s illness upended his re-election campaign with just 31 days to go until the Nov. 3 Election Day. Polls show Trump trailing his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump advisers acknowledged they would have to rip up their plans for the final weeks of the campaign. Trump has held in-person rallies with supporters who mainly decline to wear masks, and has mocked Biden for avoiding such events.

“Trump is a high-energy president with a giant personality. Without his persona, the campaign is missing its energy,” Republican fundraiser Dan Eberhart said.

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Biden and his wife Jill Biden tested negative on Friday, his campaign said.

Trump’s illness also raised questions about the health of others atop the U.S. government.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife tested negative, a Pence spokesman said. The White House official said Pence would work from his own residence several miles from the White House and his staff was being kept separate from Trump’s staff.

Pence, 61, a conservative former U.S. lawmaker and Indiana governor, would take over if Trump were to become incapacitated.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, third in line for the presidency, said on MSNBC that she had tested negative.

Just hours before Trump’s announcement, the president had proclaimed the pandemic almost over, while Biden had accused Trump of trying to distract from a “failed” response to the disease, which has killed more people in the United States than any other country.

Trump is at high risk because of his age and weight. He has remained in apparent good health during his time in office but is not known to exercise regularly or to follow a healthy diet.

Biden wished Trump and the first lady a speedy recovery. “We will continue to pray

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