U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus in an October surprise that raised a lot of unanswered questions about what’s to come just one month before the U.S. presidential election.
The disclosure was made via a Trump tweet shortly after midnight: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for Covid-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Trump’s diagnosis came about 10 months into the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., following months of the president seemingly downplaying the extent of the crisis to American citizens. The early Friday morning tweet also comes in the final run-up to the U.S. elections on Nov. 3, in which Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, are running for re-election. A spokesman for Pence and his wife Karen said Friday morning that the two have tested negative for the virus.
Pre- and current market sessions globally were looking to the upcoming U.S. jobs reports to get a read on the economy, but then quickly shifted their attention to the news about the Trumps and Covid-19.
“Dow futures are down 500 points in response to a new set of questions about what’s ahead,” Mohamed Aly El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, whose corporate parent is PIMO and where El-Erian was the former CEO and co-chief investment officer, tweeted in the wee hours of Friday morning.
A few hours later, the Dow futures were down 367 points, or 1.33 percent, while the S&P futures slipped 48.75 points, or 1.45 percent, and the Nasdaq-100 futures fell 229.75 points, or 1.98 percent.
CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, said in an on-air report that former U.S. vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden “needs to be tested immediately” for Covid-19, after he and Trump shared the same stage for Tuesday night’s debate.
“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,” White House physician Dr. Sean Conley, said in a memo.
So what does it mean for the election? And what about Trump, who at age 74 and having pre-existing health conditions, is considered in the high-risk category?
Gupta is his report said that the “odds are very much in his favor….there’s a greater than 90 percent, 95 percent chance that he will get through this.” The doctor also noted that while Trump is being treated for high cholesterol, he also has taken hydroxychloroquine in the past. Hydroxychloroquine has been used to treat malaria, and was touted by Trump earlier this year as a possible treatment for Covid-19. But the doctor also noted that there’s still no “full vision of his medical history,” noting the strange and unscheduled visit to Walter Reed hospital a few days before Thanksgiving 2019.
CNN’s chief medical correspondent also noted that no one knows when Trump was exposed. Former White House Communications Director and adviser Hope Hicks was traveling with Trump for the debate, and then on to Duluth, Minn. for a campaign rally, also tested positive for Covid-19. Trump, except for a few more recent and rare instances, has mostly refused to take precautions during the outbreak, such as wearing a mask and shaking hands.
Gupta said a “lot of people in government will learn that they need to be tested and be in quarantine for the next two weeks.”
Trump isn’t the first political leader to have a run-in with Covid-19. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken to the hospital in April 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19, where he stayed for one week before going on to recover. Honduran president Juan Hernandez tested positive for the virus in June, followed by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro in July.