By Lucia Leal
Washington, Oct 2 (efe-epa).- Donald Trump’s positive test for Covid-19 has forced him to call a halt to campaigning barely a month before voters in the United States will decide whether to give him a second four-year term as president.
The news has likewise concentrated public attention on the pandemic at a moment when the Republican incumbent would prefer that the electorate not look too closely at his handling of the coronavirus, which has claimed 208,000 lives in the US.
The president announced via Twitter in the wee hours of Friday that both he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive.
Trump, 74, has “mild symptoms” of illness and remains “engaged” in the duties of the presidency, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said.
“He continues to be not only in good spirits but very energetic,” Meadows told reporters at the White House.
“He is not only staying committed to working very hard on behalf of the American people, his first question to me this morning was, ‘How’s the economy doing? How’re the stimulus talks going on Capitol Hill?'” the chief of staff said.
Hours later, New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo disclosed that Vice President Mike Pence took Trump’s place on a Covid-19 conference call with governors.
“When the call started, the vice president did the call and said the president asked him to handle the call for him,” Cuomo told 1010 WINS radio. “So the president didn’t actually get on the briefing call, the vice president handled it.”
Trump is showing symptoms similar to those of a cold, according to unnamed sources cited by US media outlets, who said that the president seemed exhausted following a rally Wednesday night in Minnesota.
Meadows acknowledged that Trump went forward with a fund-raising event Thursday at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, after learning that one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, had tested positive for coronavirus.
Word that Trump was infected prompted people who had been in contact with him to get tested.
That group included his Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, who spent roughly two hours on a stage with Trump during Tuesday night’s debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Neither man wore a mask, though they remained at least six feet apart from each other at all times.
At one point during the encounter, Trump ridiculed Biden for his habit of wearing a mask when he appears in public.
“I don’t wear face masks like him. Every time you see him he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away … and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” the president said of his political rival.
The Democratic candidate and his wife, Jill Biden, underwent coronavirus tests on Friday.
“I’m happy to report that Jill and I have tested negative for COVID,” Biden said on Twitter. “Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern. I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”
Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, also tested negative, the campaign said.
Both Biden and Harris extended their best wishes to the president and the first lady.