US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania have both tested positive for the coronavirus.
Mr Trump announced the news on Twitter, saying he and the First Lady would begin their quarantine and recovery process immediately.
“We will get through this together,” he said.
Mrs Trump also posted a statement, saying she and her husband were “feeling good”.
“As too many Americans have done this year, POTUS and I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19,” she said.
“We are feeling good and I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe and we will all get through this together.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sent a private message to Mr Trump wishing him a speedy and full recovery.
The President’s physician, Sean Conley, released a letter saying he expected Mr Trump to continue his duties.
“This evening I received confirmation that both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive,” he said.
“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 further developments.”
The letter did not specify whether the President and First Lady were suffering from symptoms of the virus.
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said people had noticed Mr Trump’s voice was “raspy” today, but had “chalked it up to a busy week”.
INFECTED ADVISER WAS IN CLOSE CONTACT
The Trumps went into quarantine and got tested today after one of the President’s closest advisers, Hope Hicks, contracted the infection.
Ms Hicks, a former White House communications director who returned to the administration as a counsellor to Mr Trump earlier this year, travelled to and from this week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio with him.
She was also aboard the President’s helicopter, Marine One, for a trip to Joint Base Andrews yesterday. And she was aboard Air Force One for Mr Trump’s visit to Minnesota, where he held a political rally.
A number of other people were on those trips as well.
According to US media, the list of people potentially exposed includes: Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, Eric Trump and his wife Lara, Tiffany Trump, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, adviser Stephen Miller, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Congressman Jim Jordan, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and criminal justice reform advocate Alice Marie Johnson.
Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity after his test, but before the result was known, Mr Trump was in a fairly positive mood.
“I just went for a test, and we’ll see what happens. I mean, who knows?” he said.
“We spend a lot of time with Hope.
“But you know Hope very well. She’s fantastic, and she’s done a great job.”
The positive test result will drastically change the presidential election campaign, with the President presumably quarantining for an extended period of time.
The second debate against Joe Biden is scheduled for October 15, which is 13 days away.
Speaking to Hannity, Mr Trump said that it was difficult for him and those close to him to avoid the virus since so many others, including members of the military, try to interact with them.
“It’s very hard when you’re with soldiers, when you are with airmen, when you’re with the Marines, and the police officers, I’m with them so much. And when they come over to you, it’s hard to say, ‘stay back, stay back.’ You know, it’s a tough kind of a situation, it’s a terrible thing,” he said.
“I just went for a test, and we’ll see what happens. I mean, who knows … I was surprised to hear with Hope, but she’s a very warm person with them.”
Bloomberg News correspondent Jennifer Jacobs, who was first to report that Ms Hicks had contracted the virus, said the senior aide was experiencing symptoms, and had been in close proximity to Mr Trump without a mask in recent days.
In a statement earlier today, White House spokesman Judd Deere said the President “takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously”.
“White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is travelling,” Mr Deere said.
TRUMP MOCKED BIDEN FOR WEARING MASK
Mr Trump’s repeated efforts to downplay the threat of the virus are well documented.
That issue came up during the first presidential debate two days ago. Mr Trump defended his decision to continue holding packed rallies, with attendees practising no social distancing and rarely wearing masks.
And he mocked his opponent, Joe Biden, for holding smaller events and frequently wearing a mask himself, even when outdoors.
“You have begun to increasingly question the effectiveness of masks as a disease preventer,” moderator Chris Wallace pointed out.
“No, I think masks are OK,” Mr Trump said, pulling a mask out of his pocket to demonstrate that he had one.
“I put a mask on when I think I need it. Tonight, as an example, everybody’s had a test and you’ve had social distancing and all of the things that you have to. But I wear masks when needed.
“I don’t wear a mask like him,” he added, gesturing towards Mr Biden.
“Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. he could be speaking 200 feet away from him, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
“Masks make a big difference,” Mr Biden shot back.
“His own head of the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) said if we just wore masks between now – if everybody wore a mask and social distanced between now and January, we’d probably save up to 100,000 lives. It matters.”
“And they’ve also said the opposite,” Mr Trump interjected.
“No serious person has said the opposite. No serious person,” said Mr Biden.
It is true that top scientists in the US government, including Dr Anthony Fauci, initially advised Americans that they did not need masks.
He has since justified that by saying he was concerned about the general public panic buying them, leading to shortages for frontline health workers and teachers.
“President Trupm, you’re holding large rallies with crowds packed together. Thousands of people,” Wallace said.
“Outside,” Mr Trump claimed.
“Outside. Yes sir. Agreed,” Wallace said.
Most of Mr Trump’s rallies have indeed been outside, usually at airports. Some, however, have been indoors.
“Vice President Biden, you are holding much smaller events with people, with masks,” Wallace continued.
“Because nobody will show up. It’s true! Nobody shows up to his rallies,” Mr Trump interjected.
“All right. In any case, why are you holding the big rallies? Are you not worried about spreading the disease?” Wallace asked.
“Because people want to hear what I have to say,” the President replied.
“I’m doing my job as President, and I’ll have 25,000-35,000 people show up at airports. We use airports and hangers, and we have a lot of people.
“So far we have had no problem whatsoever. It’s outside. That’s a big difference, according to experts. We do them oustide, we have tremendous crowds, as you see, and literally on 24 hours’ notice. And Joe does circles and has three people someplace.”
“He’s been totally irresponsible in the way in which he has handled the social distancing, and people wearing masks – basically encouraged them not to,” Mr Biden argued.
“He’s a fool on this.”
WHO IS HOPE HICKS?
Ms Hicks is one of Mr Trump’s longest-serving and most trusted political advisers.
She first met the President in 2014, while employed by a public relations company that was representing his daughter Ivanka’s fashion line.
She went on to become his White House communications director – replacing the controversial Anthony Scaramucci – until 2018, when she moved to California to become an executive at Fox Corporation.
“There are no words to adequately express my gratitude to President Trump,” she said in a statement at the time of her departure.
“I wish the President and his administration the very best as he continues to lead our country.”
“She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person,” Mr Trump said.
“I will miss having her by my side but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future.”
That statement proved prescient. In February, shortly after the end of his impeachment trial, Mr Trump rehired Ms Hicks to serve as an adviser.
Over the years, she has developed a reputation for knowing and understanding him better than most advisers.
Ms Hicks, the youngest communications director in history, became known as something of a Trump “whisperer” during her first stint in the White House.
As the rest of Mr Trump’s staff often crumbled around her, with chiefs of staff and press secretaries quickly flaming out, she was the one constant, always by the President’s side.
“My father makes people earn his trust. She’s earned his trust,” Ivanka Trump once said.
Ivanka poached her from the aforementioned PR company in 2014. By January of 2015, a short time after she joined the Trump Organisation, Mr Trump himself recruited her for his presidential campaign.
“Her most important role is her bond with the candidate. She totally understands him,” campaign chairman Paul Manafort later told The New York Times.