World Expresses Shock After President Trump Reveals Positive COVID-19 Test

Donald Trump Melania Trump Coronavirus
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Shock rippled across the world as President Trump revealed on Twitter on Thursday night that he and First Lady Melania Trump had both tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory virus that has so far killed over 200,000 Americans and infected millions.

Although it’s unclear if he’s symptomatic, at 74, Trump is at higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. Melania Trump is 50, and at slightly reduced risk.

Trump is the latest world leader to contract the virus. In late March, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized and put in intensive care. Johnson wished Trump a “speedy recovery” on Friday morning U.K. time. Meanwhile, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro was also infected in July.

On Friday morning, Democratic challenger Joe Biden tweeted well-wishes for the couple and their “swift recovery.”

Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris also extended her sympathies, writing, “Doug and I join Joe Biden and Dr. Biden in wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery. We’re keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts.”

Reacting to the news, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he was “sending our love and prayers” to the couple. Pence’s press secretary Devin O’Malley on Friday morning confirmed that he has tested negative for coronavirus.

In Hollywood, reactions were swift. Alyssa Milano tweeted that as someone who has had the virus and continues to suffer from its aftereffects, she “wouldn’t wish this virus on [her] worst enemy.”

Simu Liu, star of Marvel’s upcoming “Shang-Chi,” used the opportunity to remind others to wear a mask. Trump had long neglected to wear a mask during public appearances before reversing course as the coronavirus pandemic continued through the summer, and calling mask-wearing “patriotic.”

But even as recently as last Tuesday, when asked whether he was questioning the efficacy of masks during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Trump said, “I think masks are okay. You have to understand, if you look … I mean, I have a mask right here. I put a mask on when I think I need it.”

Referring to Joe Biden, he added, “I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask.”

Many, like “The West Wing” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” actor Bradley Whitford, criticized Trump’s apparent resistance to heeding scientific expertise.

The president has downplayed the seriousness of the virus for months, stating incorrectly at a recent rally that “it affects virtually nobody,” and encouraging states to “open your schools.”

“Oh NOW it’s called Covid ok,” actor Suzy Nakamura tweeted, referring to Trump normally using the xenophobic terms “Wuhan Virus” and “China Virus” to describe COVID-19.

Others were skeptical that the president had actually contracted the virus.

Globally, major figures have also begun responding to Trump’s diagnosis. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted wishes for a “quick recovery and good health.”

Johnson, who has personal experience with COVID-19, following his hospitalization in the spring, also wished Trump a fast recovery on Friday morning local time.

Meanwhile, Russian leader Vladimir Putin sent Trump a telegram with his wishes for recovery, Interfax news agency reported. “I am certain that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with this dangerous virus,” said Putin.

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also shared his best wishes for Trump, who has spearheaded America’s withdrawal from the WHO, and its promise to pull funding. The U.S. issued a formal notice of its withdrawal from the org back in July.

Elsewhere, the Chinese Communist Party-backed English newspaper China Daily highlighted that Trump’s diagnosis was a reminder that COVID-19 is still a real threat. Trump famously called COVID-19 “the Chinese virus” earlier in the year. In its article, China Daily reports, “Since it emerged earlier this year, Trump, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his own administration — such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing.”

In the U.K., Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated actor Dominic West (“The Affair,” “The Wire”) caused an uproar with his comments about Trump on broadcaster ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” breakfast show. “I did slightly leap in the air with joy,” said West.

“He said ‘it is what it is,’ and I think the phrase is ‘what goes around comes around.’ I just hope it doesn’t interfere with him being elected out of office that’s all,” West added.

“There’s an element of schadenfreude I suppose,” West continued when asked by host Kate Garraway if there was an element of karma in the development. “I’m not a fan of his, as you can probably tell, and I just hope Biden stays healthy and gets the presidency as quickly as possible.”

“I think Trump is a catastrophe for America and the world.”

Twitter was quick to react. “Kate Garraway’s husband Derek is extremely ill in hospital with Covid-19,” tweeted journalist Jess Denham. “So maybe don’t say to her that Donald Trump catching it is karma and that ‘what goes around comes around’. Hmm Dominic West? Every day I am truly wowed by people’s insensitivity.”

Academic Sukhy Bahia tweeted: “What a disgusting man Dominic West is, I wish Mr and Mrs Trump a speed recovery”

Actor Alan Mehdizadeh tweeted: “Why are Trump supporters angry at Dominic West for being happy President Clown has Covid?

Wasn’t Trump (and his gaggle of bungles) just telling us it’s:

-Just a cough
-Just a cold
-Going to disappear very soon
-A mild flu
-Not a big deal
-Fake news
-Treated with light or bleach”

The news came on the heels of CNN’s revelation of leaked audio tapes of Melania Trump expressing expletive-laden frustration with decorating the White House, telling an aide, “Who gives a f— about Christmas stuff and decoration?” The First Lady also lashed out at criticism of the president’s separation of migrant children from their parents at the border.

In the tapes, she can be heard saying, “OK, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a f—ing break.”

Speculation of whether the president had caught the virus began earlier in the evening, after Bloomberg had broken the news that top Trump aide Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID-19.