WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was taken Friday to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a stay that is expected to last several days, a move the White House said was made out of an abundance of caution after he tested positive for the deadly coronavirus and experienced symptoms.
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I’m going to Walter Reed hospital,” Trump said Friday in a videotaped statement released on Twitter less than 24 hours after he and his wife, Melania, tested positive for the coronavirus. “I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out.”
Trump was experiencing fatigue, and the first lady was coughing with a headache Friday, the White House doctor said, describing the physical effects of a White House coronavirus outbreak that has disrupted American politics one month before a presidential election.
Trump, who is 74, began taking a cocktail of drugs as a “precautionary measure,” according to doctor Sean Conley, who provided limited information about Trump’s condition or the reasons for his stay at Walter Reed.
“In addition to the polyclonal antibodies, the President has been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin,” Conley said in a White House memo Friday afternoon, describing Trump as “fatigued but in good spirits.”
Conley said Trump received an 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail via “infusion without incident.”
A few hours later, Trump walked to Marine One wearing a mask, and was transported to Walter Reed.
The president otherwise remained out of sight and publicly silent through much of the day, while suspending all in-person campaign events.
Trump’s positive diagnosis and hospitalization reverberated through the capital Friday, with uncertainty, recrimination and the disease itself spreading from the West Wing to Congress and beyond.
In addition to the president, Melania Trump and top adviser Hope Hicks, several other people who had been to the White House in recent days reported positive tests Friday, raising the prospect that the West Wing had become an epicenter of community spread for the virus.
The mystery surrounding Trump’s condition Friday carried over from the previous day, when the White House was slow to publicly acknowledge Hicks’ positive test, which came before Trump attended a fundraiser in New Jersey. Hicks, one of Trump’s closest advisers, traveled with him on Air Force One and Marine One this week, before becoming ill.
Hicks was among a group of several people — including a U.S. senator, a university president, another White House aide and multiple journalists — who reported testing positive Friday after having spent time at the White House. Melania Trump said on Twitter that she had “mild symptoms but overall feeling good.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who tested negative Friday, said he wishes a swift recovery for Trump as he battles the coronavirus, which has killed more than 208,000 Americans and sickened millions more.
The president worked from the White House residence early Friday, aides said, but canceled all scheduled official events. He originally planned to go ahead with a call Friday with elderly Americans about the coronavirus but asked Pence to do it instead.
If his condition worsens, it’s possible Trump could consider a temporary surrender of powers to the vice president, as clarified in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. If the president is unable to perform his duties, including by disability or illness, he may inform the House speaker and Senate president, allowing the vice president to perform presidential duties.
The president could resume his duties after providing “a written declaration to the contrary” to the congressional leaders, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The White House gave no indication that Trump was preparing to hand over power to Pence and said he would be working out of offices at Walter Reed.
The Trump campaign announced that events involving the president — including rallies scheduled this weekend in Florida and Wisconsin — have been postponed. Members of Trump’s family also suspended their planned campaign events.
Pence planned to resume campaigning after his doctor wrote a memo saying he did not need to quarantine despite his exposure to Trump. The doctor, Jesse T. Schonau, said Trump did not count as a “close contact” of Pence.
Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, tested negative Friday and intend to continue campaigning, as well.
Trump’s early morning announcement that he had contracted the virus marked an extraordinary turn for the first family, coming as the president has escalated his campaign pace in an effort to catch Biden, who leads in national and key state polls. Trump, aides and voters say, trails largely because of his handling of the virus, which has dominated voters’ attention along with the economic collapse caused by pandemic shutdowns.
Trump has mocked Biden for following public health guidelines, including avoiding crowds and wearing masks — measures the president has openly flouted during a string of mass rallies and public events in recent weeks.
Biden, who shared a debate stage with Trump on Tuesday, said he hoped for the president’s swift recovery.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tested positive for the virus Wednesday but didn’t reveal her diagnosis until after Trump announced he had it. McDaniel was last with Trump a week ago at a Sept. 25 fundraiser.