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President's COVID-19 diagnosis upends campaign plans weeks before Election Day

Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 18:07:13-04

Presidential campaigns often brace for what’s known as an “October Surprise," a potentially game-changing revelation just weeks before the election. This year, the surprise came early in the month. Just after midnight on Friday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that he and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19.

The news is already disrupting the final sprint to Election Day with only 4 weeks to go.

"He is in an age group that does have, that does carry risk for severe COVID, so this is very concerning," said UCLA epidemiology professor Anne Rimoin.

President Trump, who favors holding in-person campaign rallies, canceled one scheduled for Friday in Florida and two others in Wisconsin this weekend. Both are critical swing states that polling has shown the president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden are in a tight race.

The president also was absent on a previously scheduled conference call Friday afternoon.

The news comes at the end of a week which included a raucous Presidential Debate, with President Trump frequently interrupting his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.

The future of the next presidential debate, scheduled to take place in Miami on October 15, remains up in the air. Trump's campaign has not released an official statement about the debate specifically.

Meanwhile, the Vice Presidential Debate, set for this coming Wednesday is still on. Vice President Mike Pence, and his wife, Karen, announced they both tested negative for the virus. Pence and Senator Kamala Harris will debate in Salt Lake City on October 7.

Questions remain about the coronavirus status of others in the president’s inner circle, many of whom traveled without masks around both him and presidential advisor Hope Hicks. She was the first to show symptoms and test positive this week, which eventually led to the president getting tested himself.

Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted out that he and his wife, Jill, both tested negative for the virus and are praying “for the health and safety of the President and his family.”