WASHINGTON: The White House tried to reassure Americans on Friday that President Donald Trump was still working from isolation, after his bombshell announcement that he had caught the coronavirus threw the administration and presidential election campaign into uncertainty.
Trump, who has played down the threat of the coronavirus pandemic from the outset, said he and his wife Melania had tested positive for the deadly virus and were going into quarantine.
Trump is experiencing “mild symptoms” of COVID-19, a White House official said according to the Associated Press and the New York Times. Two people familiar with his condition told the Times they were cold-like symptoms.
Wall Street tumbled at news of one of the biggest health scares involving an American president for decades, with the S&P 500 plunging more than %1.5 at the opening.
“The president is not incapacitated. He is actually working from the residence,” a senior White House official said.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife tested negative, a Pence spokesman said. The White House official said Pence would work from his own residence and his staff was being kept separated from Trump’s staff “out of an abundance of caution.”
But the official acknowledged that the president’s illness would force him to cancel travel plans with just 31 days left to go until the presidential election. Polls show Trump trailing his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump said in a tweet early on Friday morning.
Biden said on Twitter that he and his wife Jill wished Trump and the first lady a speedy recovery. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family,” he said.