Here’s what you need to know:President Trump returned to Washington from a fund-raiser at his golf club in New Jersey on Thursday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
President Trump is showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, but mild ones, according to two people familiar with his condition.
The president, who said on Thursday night that he had tested positive for the virus, has had what one person described as coldlike symptoms. At a fund-raiser he attended at his golf club at Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday, where one attendee said the president came in contact with about 100 people, he seemed lethargic.
A person briefed on the matter said that Mr. Trump fell asleep at one point on Air Force One on the way back from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday night.
A White House official said that as of Thursday night, the president’s treatment plan was still being discussed. So was a possible national address or a videotaped statement from the president to demonstrate that he was functioning and that the government is uninterrupted.
The disclosure upended the presidential race in an instant, inviting significant questions about his cavalier attitude toward the pandemic and the future of his campaign just 32 days before the election.
Mr. Trump, who for months has played down the seriousness of the virus and hours earlier on Thursday night told an audience that “the end of the pandemic is in sight,” will quarantine in the White House for an unspecified period of time, forcing him to withdraw at least temporarily from the campaign trail only 32 days before the election on Nov. 3.
Trailing in the polls, the president in recent weeks has increasingly held crowded campaign events in defiance of public health guidelines and sometimes state and local governments. When he accepted the nomination on the final day of the Republican National Convention, he invited more than 1,000 supporters to the South Lawn of the White House and has held a number of rallies around the country since, often with hundreds and even thousands of people jammed into tight spaces, many if not most without masks.
His dramatic disclosure came in a Twitter message just before 1 a.m. after a suspenseful evening following reports that Mr. Trump’s close adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey urged people who attended Mr. Trump’s Bedminster fund-raiser to get tested and said that the state was using contact-tracing to try to find them.
Although there is a set presidential line of succession, the Constitution is unclear on determining whether a president can perform the duties of office.Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times
Vice President Mike Pence — the first in line to assume the Oval Office if President Trump becomes too ill to carry out his duties — tested negative for the virus on Friday, a glimmer of stability on a day when questions are swirling over what comes next should Mr. Trump’s symptoms worsen.
The government’s continuity plan in case of a national emergency, which largely focuses on wide-scale attacks, outlines such a procedure.
The presidential line of succession, laid out in a 1947 law, falls first to Mr. Pence. If he were to become too ill to carry out the duties of the president, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, would step in. Ms. Pelosi has been tested and is waiting for her results. After Ms. Pelosi, Senator Chuck Grassley, currently the Senate President Pro Tem, would step in. Next in line is the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Mr. Pompeo said Friday that he tested negative and feels fine. Should Mr. Pompeo fall ill, the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, would step in. Mr. Mnuchin’s spokeswoman tweeted on Friday that he too tested negative. (An earlier version of this article omitted the Senate President Pro Tem.)
Left unclear is how it is decided that a president is too ill to perform his duties.
The 25th Amendment was intended to deal with any ambiguity about who leads the government when a president cannot. If the president becomes sick and the cabinet determines that he or she is unable to perform the office’s duties, the amendment grants the administration the power to temporarily transfer authority to the vice president. Once the president deems himself fit, he can reclaim the power of the presidency.
Other U.S. presidents have fallen seriously ill while in office — George Washington was feared close to death during a flu outbreak and Woodrow Wilson was gravely ill during peace talks after World War I in Paris — and four have died of natural causes while in office. Four others were assassinated.
But not since 1981, when President Ronald Reagan was shot, has a president been known to confront a life-threatening illness in office.
Should Mr. Mnuchin also be too ill to serve, next in line would be the secretary of defense, followed by the attorney general.
Attorney General William P. Barr was last in the same room with Mr. Trump on Saturday during a reception for his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Mr. Barr will be tested, a spokeswoman said.
“He is not experiencing any symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution, will get tested this morning,” said the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec.
At 74, President Trump is older than other world leaders who have contracted the coronavirus.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
President Trump’s disclosure that he had been infected by the coronavirus sent a shudder around the world on Friday, shaking global markets and drawing sympathy from leaders who have grappled with the pandemic in their own countries and more pointed responses from critics who noted Mr. Trump’s own cavalier handling of the threat.
Mr. Trump is not the first world leader to be infected. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil both tested positive. And Mr. Johnson suffered a serious bout of Covid-19, ending up in an intensive care unit where, he said later, “things could have gone either way.”
But Mr. Trump, 74, is older and at higher risks than either of those men. The news of an American president contracting a potentially lethal virus carried global repercussions beyond that of any other world leader.
Global markets dropped Friday after Mr. Trump disclosed that he and his wife have the virus, throwing into doubt the political leadership of the world’s largest economy.
Financial markets fell in Asia, and European markets opened more than 1 percent lower with some markets recovering slightly as the day went on. Wall Street was set to open sharply lower, according to futures markets, but intense volatility suggested that investors will still be parsing how strongly to react to the news. Investments that are more sensitive to economic and policy shifts fell quickly. Oil futures slid on Friday along with stocks, while other commodities fell too.
Expression of concerns and good wishes for Mr. Trump’s speedy recovery — as well as that of the first lady, Melania Trump — poured in from leaders in Britain, India, Russia and other countries.
Some foreign commentators, however, took note of Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying it was a reminder of a virus that drew no distinctions between rich or poor, weak or powerful.
Others suggested a degree of justice in his diagnosis, given his record of diminishing the threat of the virus, refusing simple precautions like wearing a face mask and holding campaign rallies without social distancing.
“When the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, can catch this, the virus has no boundaries,” said Wang Huiyao, the founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization, an influential research group in Beijing.
President Trump, 74, has contracted a virus that has posed a particular threat to older adults, particularly men.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
President Trump’s positive coronavirus test has raised questions about what the infection could mean for the health of the leader of the United States.
In a statement, the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, said Mr. Trump was “well” but did not say whether he was experiencing symptoms. He said the president, 74, would stay isolated in the White House for now.
Here is what we know about how the virus could affect people fitting Mr. Trump’s profile.
Older men are at greater risk of becoming seriously sick.
Older men are up to twice as likely to die from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as women of the same age, according to an analysis by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Another study, published in Nature in August, found that this was because men produce a weaker immune response than do women.
Many people Mr. Trump’s age have recovered.
Even though the risk of severe illness from Covid-19 increases with age, most people who contract it get well quickly with minimal symptoms.
But it’s hard to say how long a recovery could take.
Experts agree that the next week would be critical in determining the course of Mr. Trump’s illness.
If Mr. Trump does not develop symptoms, antibodies would appear 10 days after the onset of illness and he would recover, according to Dr. Hui at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Current estimates suggest that symptoms, if they appear, could do so in as quickly as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
If he develops mild symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath, it could take him a week to recover. A severe illness, which could mean developing lung lesions and pneumonia, could require hospitalization, possible ventilation, and months of treatment.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with President Trump in 2018.Credit…Marcos Brindicci/Reuters
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sent President Trump a telegram wishing him and Melania Trump “a speedy recovery and expressing sincere support at this difficult moment,” the Kremlin said.
“I am sure that your inherent vitality, vigor and optimism will help you overcome the dangerous virus,” Mr. Putin wrote to Mr. Trump, according to the Kremlin.
Mr. Putin and his government have largely declared victory over the virus in recent months, and allowed life in Russia mostly to return to normal.
But unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect himself from the virus: the few people who see the Russian president in person are generally required to quarantine for as much as two weeks first.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain last month. He contracted the coronavirus in March.Credit…Justin Tallis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President Trump has joined the ranks of world leaders who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Here is a look at some of the others:
Britain: Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 56
Mr. Johnson, who in the early part of the pandemic resisted a lockdown and social-distancing measures, contracted the virus in March. He was later hospitalized and deputized the country’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to carry out his duties. After Mr. Johnson was released from the hospital in April, he thanked Britain’s National Health Service, saying that it had “saved my life, no question.”
It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS for saving my life.
The efforts of millions of people across this country to stay home are worth it. Together we will overcome this challenge, as we have overcome so many challenges in the past. #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/HK7Ch8BMB5
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 12, 2020
Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro, 65
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Bolsonaro was cavalier about the disease, calling it a “measly cold.” Even as his country became one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic, he attended political rallies, shook hands with supporters and went around without a face mask. To date, more than 144,000 Brazilians have died from the virus. He said in July that he had contracted the virus, although his case appeared to have been mild.
Honduras: President Juan Orlando Hernández, 51
Mr. Hernández tested positive in June along with his wife and two aides, and was treated for pneumonia. He initially vowed to keep working as he displayed mild symptoms, but his health quickly worsened, and for days Mr. Hernández remained in a “delicate” situation, doctors said, as he was hospitalized and needed oxygen.
Bolivia: President Jeanine Añez, 53
Ms. Añez, Bolivia’s caretaker leader who took office in January after the ouster of former president Evo Morales, tested positive for the virus in July. She remained in self-isolation for 14 days.
Guatemala: President Alejandro Giammattei, 64
Mr. Giammattei announced last month that he had tested positive, on the day that the Central American country reopened its borders and international flights after a six-month closure.
Armenia: Nikol Pashinyan, 45
Mr. Pashinyan went into self-isolation in June after he and his close family tested positive. A week later, after displaying no symptoms, Mr. Pashinyan said he had tested negative.
Secret Service agents at President Trump’s campaign rally at Wittman Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., last month.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
The Secret Service sustained a coronavirus outbreak at its training facility in Maryland in August, weeks before President Trump was infected, evidence of growing infections at the agency responsible for protecting the president.
At least 11 employees at the center in rural Maryland tested positive for the virus even after it was closed for several months to mitigate transmissions, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Some of the personnel are believed to have contracted the virus during training exercises or at a graduation celebration at a nearby hotel where participants did not practice social distancing, the people said.
The agency declined to discuss the specifics of the outbreak, but it said in a statement that it “has taken significant precautions at its training center to protect the health and welfare of its trainees and training staff.” There’s no indication this outbreak led to infections among the agents and officers who directly protect the president.
The details about the problem at the center were uncovered by the Project on Government Oversight, an independent watchdog group in Washington. The organization brought the information about the outbreak to The New York Times, which independently confirmed details of it with people briefed on the matter. Those people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing delicate personnel matters.
The news early Friday morning that the president and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus gave the Secret Service outbreak new relevance. Hours before that announcement, the White House confirmed that Hope Hicks, a close adviser to Mr. Trump, had been infected.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, left, and General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Capitol Hill in July. Credit…Pool photo by Michael Reynolds
The Pentagon said on Friday morning that there had been no changes to alert levels for American troops worldwide, and that military analysts had not detected any unusual activity from potential adversaries resulting from the announcement that President Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“There’s been no change to our alert levels,” the military’s Joint Staff said in a statement. “The U.S. military stands ready to defend our country and its citizens. There’s no change to the readiness or capability of our armed forces.”
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were last with Mr. Trump on Sunday, an administration official said, at a reception for Gold Star families attended by both Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump. They are both getting tested, the official said. Mr. Esper was traveling in North Africa on Friday, while General Milley was at the Pentagon.
As commander-in-chief, Mr. Trump can readily use secure communications channels to confer with top civilian Pentagon officials and military commanders while in quarantine at the White House, military officials said.
Military officials tracking operations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Pacific said they were monitoring for any possible increase in threats, but as of Friday morning had not detected any unusual activity.
In Iraq, for instance, American troops are already on heightened alert as tensions with Shia militias linked to Iran have increased in recent weeks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned the United States will close its embassy in Baghdad if the Iraqi government does not rein in rocket attacks against the diplomatic compound and assaults on Iraq-contracted civilian convoys that provide supplies to U.S. personnel. Russian warplanes have flown dangerously close to American military aircraft in the Black and Baltic seas in recent weeks, in echoes of Cold War brinkmanship.
The Pentagon last month sent armored vehicles and additional fighter patrols to northeast Syria after a U.S. ground patrol helping with counterterrorism operations there was rammed by a Russian armored vehicle. Seven U.S. troops were injured and reported concussion-like symptoms.