HUDSON — When President Donald Trump’s announced on Twitter early Friday he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, the tweet sent a shock wave across the nation and into the Twin Counties.
The president’s announcement comes nearly a month to the day before the November election.
The Trumps’ diagnosis, which came three days after the first of three planned debates with Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president Joe Biden, could have wide-ranging effects on two campaigns that were beginning to ramp up.
Local residents in the Twin Counties expressed mixed feelings about the president’s diagnosis.
“It’s just a horrible virus,” Marissa Gonzalez, of Hudson, said. “It’s killing people. No one should be happy when anyone gets sick with anything. I wonder if he knew he was sick during the debate. I think this could get more people to wear a mask at the store.”
The president was tested after a close aide, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, tested positive for COVID-19. Hicks experienced mild symptoms on the plane ride home after a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday evening.
“It’s just bad timing. The election is pretty much here,” said Daniel Erickson, of Catskill. “We kind of figured when we heard that [the] advisor had it that he [Trump] would, too. If he had it really bad we’d be in trouble. I think he’s gonna be OK.”
Since March, more than 200,000 people in the nation have died from COVID-19, including 37 COVID-related deaths in Columbia County and 19 in Greene County, according to both health departments.
“I’m sorry that he caught the virus, but then again I’m not, because obviously he wasn’t showing the country how serious this virus is by not wearing a mask at the very least,” Edwin Pabellon, of Hudson, said. “I hope that he changes his feelings on the virus itself and the steps that we need to take to preventive measures towards the virus.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its website, said age can be a risk factor for COVID-19. At 74 years old, Trump is in a higher risk category. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those age 85 or older.
“I think that President Trump has been careless with himself and the whole country, and now he has reaped the results of that carelessness,” Jane Wright, of Philmont, said. “I wish him well, but I wish him out the door as quickly as possible because I think he is so many things that don’t line up with what presidents should be.”
Vice President Mike Pence said he and second lady Karen Pence tested negative.
Trump was scheduled to travel to Sanford, Florida, for a campaign rally Friday night. The president was scheduled to deliver virtual remarks at Friday’s event, which will be livestreamed.
Trump and the first lady suffered mild symptoms, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed Friday.
Dr. Sean P. Conley, the president’s physician, said he and the rest of the White House medical team will maintain a “vigilant watch” over the Trumps and that he expects “the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering,” according to a statement Conley released Friday.
“I’ve expressed my best wishes to the president and the first lady,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said late Friday morning on a conference call with reporters. “I hope the symptoms they get are mild. I hope they have a mild case and I hope they have a speedy recovery.”
Biden announced on Twitter on Friday afternoon he and his wife Jill tested negative for COVID-19. Biden remained socially distant from Trump during Tuesday’s debate and the pair did not shake hands.
“He is still a human regardless if people don’t like him or they do like him,” Cassie Kligerman, of Leeds, said. “I don’t follow politics ... so I’m kind of just in the middle but, you know, hopefully nothing bad happens. Just, you know, we all need kindness, even with this going on, without everything going on, you know, we all kinda just need love.”
Kate Lisa contributed to this report
Tribune News Service contributed to this report.