USA TODAY breaking news reporter Grace Hauck answers some of your biggest questions after President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19. USA TODAY
President Donald Trump was at the hospital Saturday after announcing that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
Trump flew to Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Marine One on Friday evening after experiencing fever and fatigue. Officials said they expected him to be there for a few days.
The diagnosis raises many questions about how long the president has been infected, who else may have been exposed, how the diagnosis will impact the impending election and what happens next.
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Do we know how long Trump has had COVID-19? Does he have symptoms?
– Spencer from Cedar City, Utah
White House physician Sean Conley said in a press briefing Saturday morning that Trump was “72 hours into the diagnosis now.” But Conley later issued a statement saying that he meant “day three.”
Trump experienced a mild cough, nasal congestion and fatigue from COVID-19 on Thursday, but his symptoms were improving Saturday and doctors were “cautiously optimistic,” Conley said in the breing.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Here’s a look at where he traveled the week before his diagnosis. USA TODAY
“Thursday afternoon, following the news of a close contact is when we repeated testing, and given kind of clinical indications I had a little bit more concern, and that’s when – late that night – we got the PCR confirmation that he was,” Conley said, referring to a molecular diagnostic test.
Doctors said Saturday the president had been fever free for over 24 hours, had received an antibody therapy 48 hours ago and was on a five-day course of the drug remdesivir.
Does first lady Melania have symptoms?
– L from Las Vegas
The first lady was “doing great” and “has no indication for hospitalization, advanced therapy,” Conley said Saturday morning.
Melania Trump did not go to the hospital with her husband, her chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, confirmed to USA TODAY.
“She’s still at the White House, she’s doing well,” Grisham said in an email Friday.
Who gave Trump COVID-19?
– McCalister from Shereveport, Louisiana
It’s unclear when Trump was exposed to the coronavirus and where, but he was likely exposed around the same time his aide, Hope Hicks, was also exposed. It was announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was symptomatic on Thursday. She appears to have been diagnosed Wednesday evening when she flew with the president to Minnesota.
Several people in Trump’s orbit have also tested positive. Tests have come back positive for Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, three White House reporters, one White House staffer, former White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, and Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager.
Tests have come back negative from Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen; Ivanka Trump and her husband, Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner; Barron Trump, the 14-year-old son of the president and first lady; Eric Trump, Trump’s third child and an executive of the Trump Organization; and Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law, according to their spokespeople.
For more Trump COVID-19 updates, listen to the latest 5 Things podcast
What is the mysterious Regeneron ‘cocktail’?
– Jackie from Green Bay, Wisconsin
White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo Friday afternoon that the president received a single 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail as a precautionary measure. The antibody cocktail is being studied in four late-stage clinical trials and its safety and efficacy have not been fully evaluated by any regulatory authority, the company said on its page.
The president also has been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin, Conley said.
Conley said the first lady was experiencing only a “mild cough and headache.”
In an 18-second video posted to Twitter Friday evening, Trump addressed the nation and said he was “doing very well.”
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I’m going to Walter Reed Hospital. I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well,” he said. “I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you.”
Live updates on Trump and COVID-19: Doctor to give update on Trump’s health; many infected at White House gathering
Is Trump taking hydroxychloroquine?Remdesivir?
– Don from Pioneer, California
Conley said Friday that Trump was undergoing therapy with the drug remdesivir, which has been authorized for COVID-19 patients by the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use declaration. Trials showed effectiveness under some circumstances.
“He has completed his first dose and is resting comfortably,” Conley wrote of Trump in the update released through the White House.
Remdesivir has been less controversial than hydroxychloroquine, a drug that Trump has repeatedly touted as a treatment for COVID-19 despite warnings about its effectiveness.
Remdesivir received a guarded endorsement from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, when it was announced as a new tool in the fight against the virus at the president’s press conference on April 29.
More reading on President Trump’s diagnosis
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‘The likely outcome’: Trump’s COVID diagnosis followed waning precautions at the White House
How secure is the president’s suite at Walter Reed? How is it adapted to COVID?
– Rick from Austin, Texas
Conley said in a memo Friday morning that the president and first lady planned to “remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” writing that he and his team would “maintain a vigilant watch.” But hours later, Trump was going to the hospital in what aides said was a precautionary move.
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the nation’s premier health care center for troops and senior government officials. It’s Ward 71 consists of six patient rooms, one of which is in the Presidential Suite. The suite is intended for use by General officers and cabinet level government officials.
Asked Saturday morning how the suite has been outfitted amid the coronavirus pandemic, Conely said that “it’s the same as any hospital.”
“We have an area that’s clean that you put your equipment on, and then beyond that everyone is fully gowned up, masks, gloves, for protecting ourselves and him,” he said.
First lady Melania Trump was treated at Walter Reed for a kidney condition in 2018. The president made an unexpected visit to the hospital in November 2019. The president’s annual physical usually is announced in advance to avoid speculation about his health, but was not in this case.
Trump heads to Walter Reed: The hospital for presidents, war heroes, Supreme Court justices
Who administered the test and when can we see the official test results?
– Elsie from Salina, Kansas
Conley confirmed the positive test result in a memo released by the White House shortly after the president’s tweet. Conley said both were “well at this time.”
Conley has served as Trump’s physician since 2018. He came into the spotlight in May when he approved of the president taking hydroxychloroquine. At the time, Conley said “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
Was Trump tested with more than one type of test, as there can be false positives?
– April from Cleveland, Ohio
It was not immediately clear how many tests were administered, or what kinds of tests.
“I’m not going to get into exactly what type of test,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday afternoon in a brief interaction with reporters.
Diagnostic tests are not fault-proof. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, for example, tested positive for COVID-19 in August using a rapid test, but two molecular tests taken later that day ultimately found DeWine was negative.
How often has Trump been tested?
– M from Buffalo, New York
Asked this same question at the Saturday press briefing, Conley said, “I’m not going to get into all the testing going back, but he and all the staff routinely are tested.”
During a May press briefing, Trump said he had been receiving “on average a test every two days, three days.”
Earlier that same day, McEneny said Trump was tested “multiple times a day.”
In addition, people coming into contact with the president at the White House are supposed to be tested. That includes his aides, staffers and military and the Secret Service agents who protect him.
But experts say Trump and his administration could have done more: Mandate masks at the White House, hold fewer large gatherings and use technology to allow staff to meet remotely.
Several White House aides have tested positive in the past, including a top spokeswoman to Vice President Mike Pence and a Navy valet who was in the same room as the president on the day the person began experiencing symptoms.
Unlike the White House, Congress does not have a standardized COVID-19 testing program.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19 and “will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.” USA TODAY
How soon into the disease progression do you know if you’re going to have a severe or mild case?
– Peggy from Scottsdale, AZ
Symptoms typically appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But about 40% of people who are exposed to COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all.
In some cases, older adults and people of any age with underlying health conditions may take longer than others to develop fever and other symptoms, according to the CDC.
Among patients who developed severe disease, it is about five to eight days from the onset of illness or symptoms to difficulty breathing, according to the CDC. The median time to acute respiratory distress syndrome ranges from eight to 12 days, and the median time to ICU admission ranges from 10 to 12 days.
Some patients have rapidly deteriorated one week after illness onset, the CDC said.
“The first week of COVID – and in particular days 7 to 10 – are the most critical in determining the likely course of his illness,” Conley said Saturday.
What is the minimum amount of days that Trump is obligated to quarantine?
– Tim from Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The president is in isolation, not quarantine. “Isolation” separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. “Quarantine” separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
The CDC recommends that people who have had COVID-19 can be around other people again if they meet three criteria: It’s been 10 days since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms are improving.
‘Falling off the cliff’: Experts say Trump’s quick move to hospital could be sign of serious COVID illness
Will this impact Trump’s shot at reelection?
– Anna from Washington, D.C.
Trump is expected to have to remain in quarantine until he is no longer contagious, which could take him off the campaign between now and Election Day in 32 days.
Trump had already canceled a rally in Florida on Friday, and the revelation of his positive result raised questions about his ability to hold rallies, fundraisers and participate in presidential debates scheduled later this month.
The president has tried to keep voters’ attention away from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S. Polls consistently show voters think Biden is better equipped to handle the outbreak.
The looming fight over the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court offered a perfect opportunity for Trump to fire up his supporters and donors over something that had nothing to do with the virus and its economic fallout. But Trump’s test result is likely to rob him of the ability to focus the nation’s attention on that fight.
How concerned should we be for Joe Biden’s health considering he just spent 90 minutes on a stage debating the president?
– Laura from Yardley, Pennsylvania
Former Vice President Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. A negative test only means someone isn’t shedding much virus at that moment. It doesn’t say anything about what may be brewing in the person’s body.
Trump presumably tested negative on Tuesday, the day of his debate with Biden, which reduces the chance the president passed the virus on to his political opponent. But even if he tested negative in the morning, it’s still possible he was contagious by the time of the evening debate.
The virus comes on quickly, and is most infectious during the day or two before symptoms appear, and a day or two after someone feels sick, if they ever do. Most people don’t test positive in the first day or two after exposure.
Both men did not wear masks during the 90-minute televised event, often shouting or speaking in loud voices, which is known to spread more viral particles.
What happens if Trump can’t perform his duties?
– Sam from Rochester Hills, Michigan
Presidential succession is spelled out in the Constitution.
Under the 25th Amendment, the president could notify House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Senate majority’s senior member, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that he is unable to function, transferring power to Vice President Mike Pence until the president indicates that he is able to return.
The provision has only been invoked three times since the amendment’s ratification in 1967, creating a legal mechanism for designating a head of state when the president is disabled. It was used briefly when Ronald Reagan underwent surgery in 1985 and similarly when George W. Bush was under anesthesia in 2002 and 2007.
Could the Supreme Court nomination announcement have been a spreader event?
– Sydney from Philadelphia
President Donald Trump and his adviser Hope Hicks have been in close contact with dozens – if not hundreds – of other people while potentially infectious with COVID-19, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
So far, at least four other people who have come in contact with Trump in recent days have tested positive for COVID-19, including first lady Melania Trump, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and the Rev. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame University.
Three of those four people attended a White House event Saturday at which Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Videos and photos of that event, which was held outside in the Rose Garden, show more than 180 people in attendance, with only about 50 wearing masks and few practicing social distancing.
Lee tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday, two days after meeting with Barrett. Lee is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which plans to hold confirmation hearings with Barrett beginning Oct. 12.
Judge Barrett tested negative for COVID-19, according to White House spokesperson Judd Deere. She is tested daily and was last with Trump on Saturday, he said.
On Thursday, Trump traveled to New Jersey for campaign events. The events in New Jersey were closed to the press, but GOP fundraiser John Sette attended the events and estimated about 300 people attended.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement Friday morning saying that the contact-tracing process is underway and urging anyone who attended Trump’s events in Bedminster to take full precautions, including self-quarantining and getting tested.
Contributing: Chris Woodyard, Nicholas Wu, Sean Rossman, John Fritze, Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
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