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What President Trump's Positive Coronavirus Test Result Means For His Campaign

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus. The news comes just over four weeks before the election and after months of the president downplaying the severity of the virus, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S. The president announced his diagnosis over Twitter. Speaking to reporters this morning, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed that the president has shown mild symptoms.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK MEADOWS: They remain in good spirits. The president does have mild symptoms. And as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the American people.

MARTIN: There's still a lot we do not know right now, but for what we do know, we are joined by White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, who is covering all of this. Good morning, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: So we just heard White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows say that the president is symptomatic. That had been a question earlier this morning. What else can you tell us?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I think we - those were some of the major points. You know, we had been waiting for the president's results after he confirmed last night on Fox News that he had taken another test because of all the time that he had spent with Hope Hicks. But really, there is a lot more to learn, particularly about how far this spread. You know, Mark Meadows did also talk about to reporters and give an update not only by mild symptoms but said the White House doctors will also come out and hopefully give more information about how the president is feeling and what those symptoms are. Hope Hicks, though, I just want to note, was part of the president's entourage with other top officials. And, you know, when the president...

MARTIN: We should just back up for a second, Franco. Hope Hicks initially tested positive. And that is the reason - that's what provoked Donald Trump to get tested and Melania Trump. That was at least the trigger.

ORDOÑEZ: Yes, absolutely. And it's because they spent so much time together - is why President Trump went and took this additional test. And the concern is that they have spent so much time together and not only with president but with other officials, as well.

MARTIN: OK, so, I mean, let's talk about the repercussions of this. I mean, I assume there's going to be contact tracing, trying to figure out exactly how far this has spread?

ORDOÑEZ: Yes, absolutely. There is already those steps being taken. But we are talking also about a lot of other officials that they're looking at and trying to figure out who might have it. We have already started to hear from a lot of those officials, such as Vice President Mike Pence. He and the second lady tested negative for the virus this morning. His spokesperson said they remain in good health. Also, I'll just note that Senate - pardon me - that Vice President Pence is scheduled to participate in Wednesday's vice presidential debate with Sen. Kamala Harris, you know, Democratic Joe Biden's running mate. My colleague Juana Summers did confirm that Harris tested negative yesterday, by the way. We've also heard from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. They have tested positive. The president's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have also tested negative, a spokesman said.

MARTIN: Although Joe Biden was on a stage for Donald Trump for 90 minutes. And Joe Biden has gotten a test, right? We just don't know the results of that yet?

ORDOÑEZ: That's correct.

MARTIN: So let's talk about the election. And, clearly, the biggest immediate impact besides, obviously, the president's health is the fact that he can't be on the campaign trail.

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. Trump had rallies actually planned for tonight in Florida and tomorrow in Wisconsin. But now, you know, he says he's going to stay at the White House. You know, it's also unclear whether Joe Biden will go ahead with a planned trip in Michigan tonight because of what you said. You know, we're waiting on those tests. Biden did tweet well wishes, though, for President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, on Friday morning, saying he wished them a speedy recovery and that they were praying for them.

MARTIN: We also just have news that Melania Trump - also confirming that she has mild symptoms as well. So it is still so early. But I imagine that there is a sense in the White House that they need to get the president out in some kind of video format or on television or something to assure the country that, you know, things are still operating.

ORDOÑEZ: Yes, they are definitely trying to strike an optimistic tone. My colleague, actually, Tamara Keith - she spoke with some White House officials who said that the president really wants to stay involved and stay engaged, that he's not someone who's going to sit still. So we will likely hear from him in some way or fashion.

MARTIN: OK. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, thanks for the update.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.