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POTUS & FLOTUS Test Positive for COVID-19, Trump’s Health Risks, Economic Impact

With US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announcing early Friday that they had tested positive for the coronavirus — after playing down the pandemic for months — reactions from leaders around the globe have ranged from “told you so” to “get well soon.” While sympathy notes were not scarce, plenty of Trump critics have lambasted the US commander-in-chief for his lack of leadership on COVID-19.

Trump, who according to polls faces an increasingly uphill battle to win the Nov. 3 election, rejects accusations that his failures at the helm contributed to an American death toll that is 20% of the worldwide fatality count. And now the 74-year-old, who is reportedly experiencing minor symptoms, faces a personal medical crisis with an illness that hits older, overweight and male victims particularly hard.

“This demonstrates that the virus spares no one, including those who have shown skepticism,” said Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for the French government. “I wish him a swift recovery.” European Council President Charles Michel added, “COVID-19 is a battle we all continue to fight. Every day. No matter where we live.”


Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper, tweeted, “President Trump and the First Lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down the COVID-19.” Comments from Taiwan were more kind. “The government & people of Taiwan stand with the U.S. at this testing time,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter that he wished “our friends a full and speedy recovery.”

What The World is following

Trump has joined other presidents and prime ministers in the small group of world leaders who have been infected with the coronavirus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a tough bout with the disease, ending up in the intensive care unit, and Prince Charles tested positive but showed only mild symptoms. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro came down with the virus in July. Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, and Prince Albert II of Monaco contracted COVID-19, in addition to the leaders of Guatemala, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. Senior ministers in India, Iran, Israel, South Sudan, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau were also infected.

Also on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a new law combatting religious “separatism” with the goal of liberating Islam in France from “radical” foreign influences. Local officials will have additional legal powers to counter extremism, alongside new investments in education focusing on Islamic culture and in social services for impoverished people. “Our challenge is to fight against those who go off the rails in the name of religion,” Macron said.

Alexander Gruysson