Donald Trump announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday morning. Announcing the news in a tweet, the president revealed that both he and his wife contracted the virus and would begin the quarantine and recovery process.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
With election day only weeks away, it remains unclear what impact this will have on Trump’s campaign schedule or the two scheduled debates between himself and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Before the announcement, Trump and Biden were expected to face off on October 15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, and on October 29 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
While it is unclear how serious Trump’s COVID-19 case is, he was not tested due to displaying symptoms but instead because he was in close contact with Hope Hicks, his former communications director who is currently serving as a senior counselor. If the president’s positive diagnosis is indeed asymptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific guidelines for quarantining. The institute recommends that all cases not displaying symptoms self-isolate for 10 days following the date the positive diagnosis was received. As Trump announced that he received his results on October 1, he is currently expected to leave his quarantine several days before the next debate as long as he does not develop symptoms.
The CDC has also offered an alternative to the 10-day period of isolation. If someone receives two consecutive negative tests taken at least 24 hours apart, they no longer are required to isolate and can return to their normal routine. Considering Trump’s regular testing schedule, he could potentially return to the campaign trail in a matter of days.
However, even if Trump recovers from COVID-19 without any effect on his health, it may not be a certainty that the October 15 debate will go ahead. Due to their advanced ages, both Trump and Biden are considered to be at higher risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19. In the aftermath of the announcement, there were concerns that the former vice president may have already been exposed during the pair’s debate on Tuesday. Despite testing negative at the time, the debate occurred during the virus’ incubation period and the president would have been infectious. While it does not appear that Biden has contracted the virus, Trump’s case may cause both campaigns to reconsider the debate format to ensure safety or potentially scrap them altogether.