WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will spend a “few days” at a military hospital after contracting COVID-19, the White House said Friday, as the virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans spread to the highest reaches of the U.S. government. Trump “remains fatigued,” his doctor said.
Trump was to depart the White House by helicopter late Friday for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The White House said the visit was precautionary and that he would work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to continue his official duties.
“President Trump remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” said press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the president will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days.”
Earlier Friday the White House said Trump had been injected with an experimental antibody cocktail by the White House physician.
Bill Stepien, who heads Trump’s reelection, said Vice President Mike Pence, who has tested negative for COVID-19, plans to continue to his campaign schedule.
President Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that plunges the country deeper into uncertainty just a month before the presidential election.
Trump, who has spent much of the year downplaying the threat of a virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans, said he and Mrs. Trump were quarantining. The White House physician said the president is expected to continue carrying out his duties “without disruption” while recovering.
Still, Trump’s diagnosis was sure to have a destabilizing effect in Washington and around the world, raising questions about how far the virus had spread through the highest levels of the U.S. government. Hours before Trump announced he had contracted the virus, the White House said a top aide who had traveled with him during the week had tested positive.
Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for the virus on Friday morning and “remains in good health,” his spokesman said.
Joe Biden has tested negative for the coronavirus, his primary care doctor confirmed on Friday.
The Democratic presidential nominee and his wife were tested earlier in the day after news of President Trump’s infection was announced.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor released the negative results in a statement issued by the Biden campaign.
Biden, in a social media post, thanked his supporters for “messages of concern.” He added: “I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”
Cleveland officials say they’re aware of 11 positive coronavirus cases related to the setup and planning for Tuesday’s presidential debate.
The city said in a statement Friday that it’s working with state and federal officials and is involved with interviewing those who tested positive.
Cleveland officials say most of the cases stemming from the pre-debate planning and setup involved people from out of state. They say health officials are now looking into their travels.
Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House on Thursday evening and did not appear visibly ill. Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide.
The president’s physician said in a memo that Trump and the first lady, who is 50, “are both well at this time” and “plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
The diagnosis marks a devastating blow for a president who has been trying desperately to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them. In the best of cases, if he develops no symptoms, which can include fever, cough and breathing trouble, it will likely force him off the campaign trail just weeks before the election and puts his participation in the second presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, into doubt.
Trump’s handling of the pandemic has already been a major flashpoint in his race against Democrat Joe Biden, who spent much of the summer off the campaign trail and at his home in Delaware because of the virus. Biden has since resumed a more active campaign schedule, but with small, socially distanced crowds. He also regularly wears a mask in public, something Trump mocked him for at Tuesday night’s debate.
“I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said of Biden. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Trump and Biden did not shake hands during the debate, but stood without masks about 10 feet apart for the 90-minute event.
Trump’s doctor says Trump is being treated with an experimental drug aimed at supplying antibodies to help fight his coronavirus infection.
Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs. They attach to a virus and help it be eliminated. But it can take weeks for them to form. The drugs are purified versions of ones that seemed to work best in lab and animal tests.
Trump is receiving a two-antibody combo drug that’s currently in late-stage studies from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. The company previously developed a successful treatment for Ebola using a similar approach.
It’s given as a one-time treatment through an IV.
Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said the drug was being given “as a precautionary measure,” and that Trump also was taking zinc, vitamin D, an antacid called famotidine, melatonin and aspirin. None of those have been proven to be effective against COVID-19.
Trump apparently is not receiving hydroxychloroquine, a drug he widely promoted that has been shown in many studies to be ineffective for preventing or treating COVID-19.