President Donald Trump tweeted shortly before 1AM ET on Friday that he and his wife Melania have tested positive for COVID-19, following reports White House advisor Hope Hicks, who had traveled with him this week on Air Force One, had similarly tested positive.
Trump isn’t the first world leader to contract the coronavirus. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro announced in July that he’d tested positive. UK prime minister Boris Johnson recovered from COVID-19 in April, and Honduras’ president Juan Orlando Hernández was discharged from a hospital in July.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
But as you’ve probably heard, it is the United States that has long become the nation struggling most with the pandemic, with the most cases and the most deaths, both of which far eclipse its percentage of the world’s population. Over 200,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States alone, nearly one-fifth of the 1 million people that have died worldwide.
Over the past months, Trump has famously and repeatedly insisted that the pandemic would magically “disappear,” or that the virus was largely harmless, or that it was “fading away,” among other claims.
In his recent debate against Joe Biden, he continued to downplay the need to wear a mask, stating that he puts on a mask “when I think I need it.” The CDC, among others, advises people to wear masks to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others — not necessarily to avoid contracting it yourself, and has advised even people without symptoms to get tested for COVID-19, because asymptomatic people can still contract and spread the virus.
The question now is whether Trump and his family contracting the virus will do anything to change their outlook and acceptance of the science around COVID-19, and whether the American people will change their behaviors now they’ve seen that Trump can get it too.