• President Trump late Thursday night shared the following coronavirus update via his official Twitter account – Trump confirmed that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The news comes a month out from the presidential election, and just days after the intense first presidential debate, during which former Vice President Joe Biden excoriated Trump for his administration’s handling of the pandemic.
  • Members of Trump’s family were in the audience at the debate and could be seen by reporters not wearing masks throughout.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has spent some seven months rampaging across the US, infecting more than 7.2 million Americans and killing more than 207,000, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University, the crisis has reached the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump late Thursday night shared a coronavirus update via his official Twitter account, confirming that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. It was an outcome that was regarded as at least an outside possibility earlier in the day, once it became known that a close Trump aide, Hope Hicks, reportedly started exhibiting symptoms of the virus on Wednesday. She traveled with the president for a rally following the first presidential debate earlier this week but had to be quarantined on Air Force One on the ride back to Washington DC. Prior to confirming the news of he and the first lady’s diagnosis, Trump said they were already quarantining themselves.

Of course, this news comes about a month out from the November election and puts an asterisk beside the nation’s leadership at a time when the crisis is at a critical point, with the fall and winter months expected to bring a nasty cocktail of what’s being referred to as a “twindemic” — flu season, mixed with the lingering presence of coronavirus.

Without disclosing whether the president or first lady were yet displaying symptoms, the president’s physician issued the following statement:

“The president and first lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence. Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”

The full significance of this news will be felt in the coming days, because it remains to be seen, for example, if the president is one of the lucky ones and has contracted the virus without manifesting any symptoms. That is one of the most maddening and truly frightening things about the disease — the chasm between the deadly viciousness with which it strikes some victims, while infecting other people who don’t seem to be outwardly affected by it at all.

This is also a remarkable turn of events for a president who, by his own admission, played down the virus early on — telling Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward that he preferred to do so, in order to keep people from panicking. For months, Trump also steadfastly resisted wearing a face mask in public, he belittled reporters at times who wore masks around him, and a recent study found that Trump himself has been a significant source of misinformation about the virus throughout the pandemic.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.