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The Trumps Test Positive

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ImagePresident Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, on Tuesday.
Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

President Trump and his wife, Melania, have tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced in a tweet shortly before 1 a.m. Eastern today. Afterward, she added that they were “feeling good.” The White House did not say whether they were experiencing symptoms.

The diagnosis is the latest piece of stunning news in a year that has been full of them. It creates uncertainty about the president’s health and his ability to campaign 32 days before Election Day, when voting has already begun in some states.

It is unclear how the couple contracted the virus. One possibility is that they did so from Hope Hicks, a close Trump adviser who traveled on Air Force One with him on Wednesday and began feeling sick that day. She tested positive Thursday.

Joe Biden’s campaign has made no announcement about his condition. Biden appeared on an indoor stage with Trump for 90 minutes, at Tuesday’s debate. They stood more than six feet apart and, because of the pandemic, did not shake hands before or after the debate.

Some experts thought Biden was unlikely to have contracted the virus, given the timeline and his distance from Trump. Others were less confident of that.

The White House did not initially announce that Hicks had tested positive. (Bloomberg News reported it.) Instead, the White House appeared to put other staff members and visitors at risk of the virus by continuing to operate as normal. Kayleigh McEnany, the press secretary, who had also been on the plane with Hicks, held a briefing yesterday with reporters without mentioning it or wearing a mask.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the risk of the virus and behaved in ways that public health experts have said risked spreading the virus. He has refused to wear a mask in public and questioned its effectiveness. He has held crowded rallies where attendees did not wear masks. Many of his staff members did not wear them at Tuesday’s debate, even after medical personnel there asked them do so.

The Trumps will quarantine in the White House for an unspecified period of time, and his doctor said he could carry out his duties “without disruption.” But his campaign schedule will almost certainly be canceled, at least for the immediate future. The status of the next presidential debate, a town hall scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, is unclear.

Reactions:

  • Expressions of concern and good wishes for the Trumps’ speedy recovery came from leaders in Russia, India, Britain and other countries.

  • Stocks in Europe and Asia have fallen modestly today.

  • Nicholas Kristof, Times Opinion columnist: “Best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady. Whatever one thinks of his policies, I hope we can be civil, avoid snark, seek lessons and wish them both a swift recovery.”

  • Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News: “Not since Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981 has there been so clear a threat to the health of an American President. A serious moment for the country.”

  • Ashish Jha, dean, Brown University School of Public Health: “This is a nightmare. COVID19 is a serious infection, especially for someone who is older like Mr. Trump. I can’t believe he was infected. This is a total failure by [the White House] team to protect the President.”

  • Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic: “In my reporting trip to the White House in August, I saw aides at their desks without masks, aides talking to one another in small offices without masks. It did not have the look of a White House that was worried about transmission of the virus.”

The Times will publish the latest updates, all day, here. A photo essay tracks the president’s movements this week.

THE VIRUS

  • House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, a sign that they are pessimistic about reaching a deal with top Republicans on a bipartisan measure.

  • The virus is surging in Wisconsin: Of the four metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the worst outbreaks, three are in the state. And it has recorded its largest numbers of daily deaths recently.

  • New York City has opened all its public schools for in-person classes. But researchers at N.Y.U. worry the system’s testing plan is not aggressive enough to stop a large outbreak.

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Credit…Bryan Woolston/Reuters
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James Baker had quite a career: the only person to serve as the chief of staff to two presidents; the Treasury secretary who shepherded the sweeping 1986 tax-reform law; and the secretary of state who helped successfully wind down the Cold War.

Much of Baker’s success stemmed from his ability to forge compromise, often along bipartisan lines. That’s a central theme of a new biography, “The Man Who Ran Washington,” by Susan Glasser of The New Yorker and Peter Baker (no relation to the subject) of The Times.

Credit…The White House

The book also offers clues about how James Baker’s Republican Party has changed so much since his retirement. In recent years, he faced a wrenching decision about whether to break with the party over Trump’s nomination. He chose not to speak out, partly to protect his standing within the party.

It has been a familiar story during the Trump presidency, as dozens of members of Congress criticize the president in private, sometimes disdainfully, but support him publicly. Baker’s “silence in the face of Trump’s outrages reflects the broader complicity of the so-called ‘Republicans who know better,’” Samantha Power, the author and diplomat, wrote in her review of the book.

Power called the book “enthralling.” The Wall Street Journal, in its review, said the book had “the feel of a novel.”

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Leeks, carrots, celery, turnips and of course, potatoes (or any other root vegetables you have on hand) are the key to this cozy vegetable soup. Dump the ingredients into a pot, simmer and then blend until silky smooth. Serve with bread.


Our weekly suggestion from Gilbert Cruz, The Times’s Culture editor:

“Not everything that is faced can be changed,” wrote the author James Baldwin, “but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” It’s a line that is said near the end of “I Am Not Your Negro,” one of the most transfixing documentaries I’ve seen in years and a rare movie that’s available on several of the major streaming services.

In a voice-over, Samuel L. Jackson reads from an unfinished Baldwin book about Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. Onscreen, we see archival footage of those men and of Baldwin himself, in appearances on talk shows and from his famous 1965 debate with William F. Buckley.

I have watched this film every year since its release in 2017. It’s a lecture and an intimate letter, a reminder that to change the future, you must first face history.


Credit…Jillian Freyer for The New York Times

For many young music fans, Anthony Fantano’s word can make or break an artist. He has reviewed songs and albums on his YouTube channel, The Needle Drop, for more than a decade, drawing more than two million subscribers. And he has helped bring a dying art form — the record review — to a new audience.

“With the music magazine landscape all but decimated, veteran bloggers scraping to get by and survivors like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone subject to corporate overlords, Fantano’s D.I.Y. bedroom model feels increasingly like the future,” the Times pop music reporter Joe Coscarelli writes in a profile.


  • Almost 35 years ago, Nintendo unveiled Super Mario Bros., the video game that turned its titular high-jumping plumber into a star. Here are 35 facts about Mario to celebrate.

  • In the latest Modern Love, a woman saw her romantic future in the movie “Bend It Like Beckham,” but her future had other ideas.


Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Sound before “Bless you” (five letters).

Or try this week’s news quiz.

You can find all of our puzzles here.


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you on Monday. — David

P.S. The word “mumblegore” — a genre of low-budget horror movies — appeared for the first time in The Times yesterday, according to the Twitter bot @NYT_first_said.

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