President Donald Trump said Thursday that he and first lady Melania Trump are about to begin a “quarantine process” as they await coronavirus test results after a top aide Mr. Trump spent substantial time this week tested positive for COVID-19.

Trump's comments came after he confirmed that one his closest aides, Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus Thursday. Hope began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride home from a rally in Minnesota Wednesday evening, according to an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private information. She was quarantined away from others on the plane and her diagnosis was confirmed Thursday, the person said.

Trump tweeted late Thursday, “The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process’. Earlier, Trump said, “Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know. I just went for a test and we’ll see what happens”.

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, DC, hotel and a political rally in Sanford, Florida.

Hope, who serves as counselor to Trump, also traveled with Trump to the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday. Hope Hicks is the closest White House official to Trump to test positive for the virus so far.

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 two lakh Americans and infected more than 7 million nationwide.

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.


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