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Trump and Melania to quarantine following top aide's COVID-19 confirmation

11:51 | 02/10/2020

President Donald Trump confirmed on Thursday night that top aide Hope Hicks has tested positive for coronavirus and said he and first lady Melania Trump will begin their "quarantine process" while waiting for their own test results.

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trump and melania to quarantine following top aides covid 19 confirmation
Trump and Melania will self-quarantine (Photo: CNN)

The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” Trump tweeted after earlier suggesting that he may quarantine.

She did test positive. She is a hard worker, a lot of masks, she wears masks a lot. She tested positive. I just went out with the test, we will see,” Trump said. “We spend a lot of time, the first lady just went and got a test also. Whether we quarantine, whether we have, we don’t know.”

He added: “We will see what happens. Who knows?”

Trump’s tweet came minutes after the White House disclosed his schedule for Friday, which includes meetings, a roundtable with supporters and an evening campaign rally in Florida. The White House didn’t comment on whether the president’s quarantine would result in events being canceled, according to CNBC.

It can take days for an infection to be detectable by a test, and it was unclear what Trump's quarantine entailed. Minutes before his tweet, the White House distributed a schedule for Friday that showed he planned to go forward with a fundraiser at his Washington, D.C., hotel and a political rally in Sanford, Florida.

trump and melania to quarantine following top aides covid 19 confirmation
Trump's post on Twitter (Photo: Captured)

Who is Hope Hicks. Trump's close top aid?

As reported by Abc 7, Hicks, who serves as counselor to Trump, also traveled with Trump to the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday. She was spotted without wearing a face mask.

Hicks traveled with the president multiple times this week, including aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday, and aboard Air Force One to Tuesday night's first presidential debate in Cleveland.

Hicks is one of the president's most trusted and longest-serving aides, having worked as spokesperson for his 2016 campaign. She originally served as White House as communications director, and re-joined the administration this year as an adviser ahead of the election. Her positive test was first reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday evening. She did not respond to a request for comment.

The positive test is yet another reminder that the coronavirus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to suggest it no longer poses a danger. Since it emerged earlier this year, Trump, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines - including those issued by his own administration - such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Instead, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters. The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide.

Trump traveled to New Jersey Thursday for a fundraiser despite concerns about Hicks' health. Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from the virus. He said he expected to have the results back either Thursday night or Friday morning.

Still, Trump has consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. "I felt no vulnerability whatsoever," he told reporters back in May.

trump and melania to quarantine following top aides covid 19 confirmation
Hope Hicks (R) and President Trump (Photo: CNN)

The White House's response

The White House had not responded earlier to multiple questions about the last time Trump was tested and whether he and other staffers who spent time with Hicks in recent days will be asked to quarantine.

Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, and one of the president's personal valets. Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating Trump's oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive in South Dakota before an Independence Day fireworks show at Mount Rushmore.

In a statement, 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 traveling," Deere said.

After earlier positive cases close to the president, the White House instituted a daily testing regimen for the president's senior aides. Anyone who will be in close proximity to the president or vice president is also tested every day, including reporters.

In May, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for Covid-19, as did a personal valet for Trump, who is responsible for serving the president his meals. Kim Guilfoyle, a top Trump campaign figure and girlfriend to Donald Trump Jr., also had tested positive and recovered.

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