(new: more details)
WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – Less than five weeks before the US presidential election, incumbent Donald Trump and First Lady Melania contracted the corona virus. The commander in chief of the largest economy in the world must now conduct his official business in quarantine in the White House. The 74-year-old Republican’s election campaign appearances are on hold. It was initially unclear whether Trump had symptoms.
If Trump cannot exercise his official duties, Vice President Mike Pence would have to step in. Pence took a test that came back negative. The Vice President has been tested daily for the corona virus for months, his spokesman Devin O’Malley wrote on Twitter.
The focus was also on his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, with whom Trump stood on a stage in a television duel on Tuesday. According to CNN, Biden wanted to be tested on Friday. Depending on the course, the Trump infection could have serious effects on the further electoral process.
According to Trump’s personal physician Sean Conley, the president is doing well. “Please rest assured that I expect the president will continue to perform his duties uninterruptedly throughout his recovery,” said Conley.
“We will begin our quarantine and recovery immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER,” wrote Trump shortly after midnight on Friday (local time) on Twitter.
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the risk of serious illness from 50 to 60 years of age increases with coronavirus infections. Pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes are further risk factors.
A health check is published once a year on Trump’s general condition. Personal physician Conley wrote in the latest report in early June that the president was still healthy.
Trump is not the first top politician to be infected worldwide. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, among others, were infected. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson developed symptoms and had to be treated temporarily in the intensive care unit. Trump was shocked by the news from London at the time.
In the corona pandemic, Trump is repeatedly accused of not taking the threat posed by the virus seriously. He usually does not wear a mask in public and has made disparaging remarks about wearing masks on several occasions. He mocked challenger Biden for it on Tuesday.
So far there have been 7.2 million corona cases in the USA, and more than 207,000 people have died after being infected. Trump repeatedly blamed the many tests that the USA is now carrying out for the high number of cases. On Monday, Trump announced that the US government was significantly expanding its corona test capacity with rapid tests.
Well-being wishes came from all over the world, including from Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, from the Prime Ministers of Israel and Great Britain, Benjamin Netanyahu and Boris Johnson, and from EU Council President Charles Michel.
The US is on the home stretch for the November 3rd election, in which Trump is running for a second term. The corona pandemic, which is by no means under control in the USA, had turned the election campaign on its head anyway. In national polls, the Democrat Biden is consistently ahead, but because of the complicated electoral system, these have only limited informative value.
Regardless of the pandemic, Trump had campaigned in front of thousands of supporters in recent weeks. Further events were planned for Florida, Wisconsin and Arizona in the coming days.
On Thursday evening it was first announced that Trump’s close advisor Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus. Trump himself confirmed the infection of his employee in an interview with Fox News and said he had been tested.
Hicks had traveled to the side of the president in the past few days: on Tuesday for the TV debate between Trump and Biden in Cleveland, on Wednesday for an election campaign appearance in the US state of Minnesota. Trump suggested that she could have been infected by members of the military or police officers. “You get close and things happen,” Trump said. However, it is completely unclear whether Hicks infected Trump or vice versa.
In photos from Wednesday, Hicks was seen at the Joint Base Andrews military airfield outside the presidential helicopter Marine One, in close proximity to Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Neither of them wore mouth and nose protection. According to US media, Hicks’ infection could have been known as early as Thursday morning. Trump had traveled to New Jersey that day.
Melania Trump wrote on Twitter that she has canceled all upcoming commitments. “Like far too many other Americans this year, the President of the United States and I are in quarantine at home after testing positive for Covid-19.”
During the Corona crisis, the First Lady had shown himself in public with a mask more often than her husband, who was repeatedly confronted with questions about not using a mask. Trump and the White House always justified this with the fact that he and his environment were regularly tested for the corona virus.
At the beginning of May it became known that the press secretary of US Vice President Mike Pence, Katie Miller, had become infected. In late July, White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien tested positive./lkl/DP/eas