President Donald Trump, Trump, who has spent much of the year downplaying the threat posed by the coronavirus despite the fact that it has killed more than 200,000 Americans, tweeted early Friday that said he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We will get through this TOGETHER!” he wrote.
The news is a significant blow to the president, who has repeatedly tried to convince the American public that the pandemic is not as serious as health professionals maintain.
Since his initial downplaying of the sincerity of the virus, saying that ‘it was just one guy from China and we have everything under control,’ Trump has disputed with scientists, ignored safety protocols, and mocked at least one person for wearing masks.
At Tuesday night’s debate, Trump mocked Biden for wearing masks.
“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.”
While the president has held rallies where people were not required to either observe social distancing or were masks, Biden has opted for safety-first gatherings. The president criticized the small gatherings, saying Biden couldn’t get more than 3 people to show up. But polls giving Biden as much as a 6 point lead nation-wide suggests Biden supporters are more numerous than Trump’s.
A number of White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, national security adviser Robert O’Brie, Hope Hicks and one of the president’s personal valets. More infections are likely as Trump has consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable, even after White House staff and allies were exposed and sickened.
“I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” Trump told reporters back in May.
All of that has changed now, and the numerous face-to-face meetings and rallies without masks and social distancing will have consequences.