US President Donald Trump says he and first lady Melania Trump are awaiting coronavirus test results after a top aide he spent substantial time with this week tested positive for COVID-19.
“Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” Trump said during a call-in interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity on Thursday night.
“I just went for a test and we’ll see what happens.”
Trump’s comments came after he confirmed that Hope Hicks, one his closest aides, had tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
Hicks 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.
Hicks, who serves as counsellor to Trump, also travelled with Trump to the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday. She is the most senior White House official to test positive so far.
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.
Trump travelled to New Jersey on Thursday for a fundraiser and the White House sent out a schedule for Friday that includes an intelligence briefing, a phone call on COVID-19 support for “vulnerable seniors,” a fundraiser at his Washington DC hotel and another rally in Sanford, Florida.
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.
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 travelling,” Deere said.
Hicks travelled 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.
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.
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.