Georgia leaders respond to Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis

Georgians woke up Friday to the jolting news that President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 just a month before the election.

Trump tweeted over night that he and First Lady Melania Trump both tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Thursday night, it was reported that the president’s close advisor, Hope Hicks, who traveled multiple times this week with Trump, had tested positive for the virus.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump said in his tweet just before 1 a.m.

The White House physician said only that the two “are both well at this time” and expected to continue fulfilling his duties while recovering at the White House. As a 74-year-old, Trump is at higher risk of serious complications from the virus.

The news is expected to roil the presidential race with Election Day just a month away. In Georgia, absentee ballots are already sitting on some kitchen counters and in-person early voting is set to start in a little more than a week.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic throughout his campaign. Trump said during this week’s chaotic presidential debate that he wears face masks when “needed” while mocking Biden’s use of one.

At the debate, Trump also defended his recent campaign rallies as safe because the large, tightly packed events have taken place outside.

The president’s positive test result comes days after he and Biden shared the debate stage Tuesday evening. The two men did not shake hands and stayed on opposite sides of the stage, which was in a large atrium on Case Western Reserve University’s campus.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family,” Biden tweeted Friday morning.

Biden said later that he and Jill Biden tested negative. “I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands,” he said on Twitter.

Official safety precautions for that event, co-hosted by the Cleveland Clinic, largely focused on the audience, which was much smaller than usual for a presidential debate. The roughly 80 audience seats were spaced out from each other, and those seated had to test negative for coronavirus. Those in the audience could be seen wearing masks, with the exception of Trump’s family members and top aides.

Several Georgia leaders quickly tweeted their reactions.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the First Family, and all suffering with Coronavirus,” tweeted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a key Biden supporter and someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in July.

“A COVID-19 diagnosis is unsettling, and even more so when a loved one also tests positive. Derek and I wish the First Family a speedy recovery,” she said.

From Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican: “Just as we have prayed for all those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including many friends and neighbors, we pray today for President Trump and the First Lady. May they have a swift and speedy recovery.”

Here’s a look at other initial reactions from Georgia officials to the news:

States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief Jane Norman and reporter Laura Olson contributed to this report. 

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