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President Trump, First Lady Test Positive for Coronavirus

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

FRIDAY, Oct. 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- President Donald Trump announced early Friday morning that he and his wife, Melania Trump, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a tweet sent out at 1 a.m., Trump said they will both quarantine in the White House for an unspecified period of time, The New York Times reported. The diagnosis forces him to temporarily withdraw from the campaign trail just 32 days before the election on Nov. 3.

The White House did not say whether the 74-year-old or his wife were experiencing symptoms. The president's physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Trump could carry out his duties "without disruption" from the Executive Mansion, the Times reported.

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence and wife Karen, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, all announced that they had tested negative for the new coronavirus.

While Trump's age and weight automatically put him in a high-risk category, Conley pronounced Trump to be "in very good health" last year after his last full medical checkup. And, unlike many of those who have succumbed to the virus, Trump will have the best medical care available, the Times said.

On Thursday, reports swirled that Trump's close advisor, Hope Hicks, had tested positive for COVID-19, the Times said. She had traveled with him several times recently.

There was no immediate word on how far the infection may have spread among senior White House officials, who typically don't wear masks because of the president's disdain for them, the Times reported.

The White House did not say how long Trump would have to remain isolated, but it canceled his plans to fly to Florida for a campaign rally on Friday, stripping his public schedule for the day of everything except a midday telephone call "on COVID-19 support to vulnerable seniors."

Trump rallies in Wisconsin on Saturday and in Arizona on Monday almost certainly will be canceled. The next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, is up in the air, the Times reported.

Even if Trump does not become seriously ill, the positive test could prove devastating to his political fortunes given his months of playing down the enormity of the pandemic. For months, he has refused to wear a mask in public on all but a few occasions and has repeatedly questioned their effectiveness.

It was not immediately clear if Trump was infected when he debated Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, aged 77, although the two never got within six feet of each other, the Times reported

Other world leaders have already been infected with COVID-19: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was so ill that he was hospitalized before recovering. Prince Charles also contracted the virus, as have the leaders of Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala and Bolivia, the Times reported.

Infections surge in Midwest

Meanwhile, coronavirus infections are surging in the American heartland, with Wisconsin bearing the brunt of COVID-19's relentless spread.

Many Midwestern states are seeing some of the nation's highest per capita rates of infection, and while federal health officials have again urged some governors in the region to require masks statewide, some Republican governors have resisted, the Associated Press reported.

Wisconsin appeared to be in the worst shape: A record number of people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in that state as of Wednesday. Of 737 patients, 205 were in intensive care, with spikes in cases in northern parts of the state driving up the numbers, the AP reported. Wisconsin health officials reported 2,319 new infections, bringing the total number to 122,274.

The state also reported its highest single-day number of deaths -- 27 -- pushing the overall death toll to 1,327.

"Over the course of the past two to three weeks we have noticed a marked rise in COVID patients coming into our hospitals in Green Bay," said Dr. Paul Casey, medical director of the emergency department at Bellin Hospital in Wisconsin, told CNN. "And this comes in the wake of what we thought we were doing well."

"For the first time in 17 years that I've been here, we've had to put patients in hallway beds," Casey told CNN. "I never envisioned having to do that in a small community like Green Bay, but we've done it not twice, but three times, in the last 10 days."

In North Dakota, hospitals are adding extra space amid worries about capacity, the AP reported. Nearly 678 COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people have been diagnosed over the past two weeks, leading the country for new cases per capita, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Overall, there have been 21,846 infections and 247 deaths.

The surge has been seen throughout the Midwest. Iowa also reported a spike in people hospitalized with the virus, to 390, the AP reported. Last week, the state had the nation's sixth-highest rate of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people, according to a recent White House coronavirus task force report. It again recommended Iowa require masks statewide, which Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has said is unnecessary.

Similarly, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has said he won't impose such a requirement. The task force report found his state is among the worst in the United States for positive coronavirus tests per 100,000 people, up 15% from a week ago.

The Midwest has now overtaken the South for the country's highest seven-day average of new daily cases per 1 million residents, CNN reported. The Midwest averaged 156 cases per 1 million people, against 124 in the South, 88 in the West and 51 in the Northeast, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Global COVID death toll passes 1 million

The global coronavirus pandemic reached a grim new milestone this week: One million dead.

Americans made up more than 200,000 of those deaths, or one in every five, according to a running tally comprised by Johns Hopkins University.

"It's not just a number. It's human beings. It's people we love," Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan, told the AP. He's an adviser to government officials on how best to handle the pandemic -- and he lost his 84-year-old mother to COVID-19 in February.

"It's people we know," Markel said. "And if you don't have that human factor right in your face, it's very easy to make it abstract."

It's taken the coronavirus just eight months to reach a worldwide death toll that's meant personal and economic tragedy for billions. Right now, more than 33.6 million people worldwide are known to have been infected with the new coronavirus, the Hopkins tally found.

By Friday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 7.3 million while the death toll passed 207,600, according to a New York Times tally.

According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Friday were: California with over 824,00; Texas with more than 788,000; Florida with more than 709,000; New York with over 464,700; and Georgia with over 303,000.

Curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the rest of the world remains challenging.

By Friday, India's coronavirus case count neared 6.4 million, just over one month after hitting the 3 million mark, the Times reported.

Nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients had died in India, according to the Hopkins tally, but when measured as a proportion of the population, the country has had far fewer deaths than many others. Doctors say this reflects India's younger and leaner population.

Still, the country's public health system is severely strained, and some sick patients cannot find hospital beds, the Times said. Only the United States has more coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, Brazil passed 4.8 million cases and more than 144,600 deaths as of Friday, the Hopkins tally showed.

Cases are also spiking in Russia: The country's coronavirus case count has neared 1.2 million. As of Friday, the reported death toll in Russia neared 21,000, the Hopkins tally showed.

Worldwide, the number of reported infections passed 34.3 million on Friday, with over 1 million deaths, according to the Hopkins tally.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.

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