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The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump, first lady in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 204,758; Tuesday, 205,085; Wednesday, 205,998; Thursday, 206,959; Friday, 207,808.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation for an undetermined period under medical supervision, adding uncertainty to U.S. leadership and a presidential contest in the midst of a contagion that has killed more than 207,000 Americans.

Early this morning, the president tweeted the news following reports that his close aide, White House counselor Hope Hicks, tested positive for the coronavirus while traveling with Trump this week. 

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” the president tweeted.

The president’s positive test results came hours after he told a Bronx audience during a virtual dinner speech that the end of the pandemic was in sight (Independent). 

White House physician Sean Conley issued a statement without detailing if Trump, 74, has symptoms of illness: “The president and first lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.” The doctor said Trump would “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”

Even if the president has no symptoms, he will have to conduct executive business remotely and in isolation and he will be off the campaign trail for some time. Because of his age, he is considered to be high-risk should illness develop. Trump’s positive coronavirus test will set off a web of COVID-19 contact tracing and additional testing among those in close contact with the president in recent days, potentially impacting others in government. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, traveling to Croatia, told reporters he tested negative for the virus following Trump’s news (The New York Times). 

If Trump becomes sick, his continued presence on the ballot could become a controversy. 

The Hill: Trump, first lady test positive for the coronavirus. 

The Hill: President to quarantine with COVID-19 infection. 

The New York Times: Trump tests positive for the coronavirus. 

Bloomberg News: “You get close and things happen,” Trump said during a Thursday night interview with Fox News while he awaited results of his latest COVID-19 swab.

The president’s positive coronavirus status makes it impossible for him to sidestep the pandemic as a continuing crisis impacting more than 7 million Americans, the economy and the nation’s sense of confidence about the future. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has made the president’s handling of the pandemic a central argument for his defeat on Nov. 3. 

At the very least, it complicates Trump’s gung-ho reassurances that businesses and schools should reopen, that professional and college sports should resume, that Americans should travel and that his administration has done a “great job.” The president has insisted on holding large campaign rallies and convened packed outdoor events at the White House. During Tuesday night’s debate, Trump said he knew of “no problems” with coronavirus outbreaks as a result of his rallies, and he mocked Biden for wearing a mask while campaigning.

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump COVID bombshell upends 2020 race.

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. stock futures drop after Trump tests positive for COVID-19. 

CBS News reports that Hicks tested negative for the coronavirus on Wednesday morning and boarded Air Force One with the president. She developed symptoms during the day and received a second test, which came back positive. Although the White House knew of her illness on Wednesday evening, Trump held a roundtable fundraiser in New Jersey on Thursday. The White House will be pressed today to explain its decision making. 

The administration’s top public health experts have warned for months that COVID-19 poses potentially lethal risks this fall in combination with the flu season and they have urged Americans to wear masks indoors and outside, avoid crowded bars and restaurants and to maintain social distancing, even outdoors.

The Constitution’s 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, provides for a transfer of presidential power for medical or health reasons to the vice president, who becomes “acting president” on a temporary basis. Under the Presidential Succession Act, enacted in 1947, if both Trump and Vice President Pence were unable to carry out their duties, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would assume power.

Pence, who campaigned in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, headlined an event capped at 600 in-person attendees who were packed at tables of 10 in a conference hall, many without masks, according to a reporter with the Des Moines Register. “I promise you, President Trump and I are going to keep on fighting for faith and family and freedom, and we’re going to fight 33 days to earn four more years in the White House,” the vice president said.  

Trump as a world leader is not alone in being personally affected by COVID-19. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized in intensive care with the coronavirus last spring and said his case “could have gone either way.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into isolation for two weeks as a precaution after his wife became infected with the virus in March. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsanaro contracted COVID-19 in June.

In a tweet, the British PM sent his “best wishes” and hopes for a speedy recovery to the Trumps.

Chicago Tribune: Trump joins growing list of world leaders infected with COVID-19.






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Before news of the president’s coronavirus infection, White House and Democratic negotiators on Thursday were in search of a deal on coronavirus relief legislation to help Americans and businesses before the House leaves Washington to concentrate on the elections.  

Trump’s personal experience with COVID-19 will add momentum to Democrats’ arguments in favor of significant federal help for people and businesses upended by life in the midst of a public health crisis.  

Without sufficient movement toward a bipartisan deal, the House late Thursday passed a $2.2 trillion package Democrats introduced on Monday — a scaled-back version of the HEROES Act, the $3.4 trillion proposal the House passed in May that was filled with a laundry list of Democratic priorities. The bill passed 214-207. 

A day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made an updated $1.6 trillion proposal, Pelosi said that while she was “hopeful” that the two sides can strike an accord, she acknowledged that the two sides remained “far apart” on key issues. Among the disagreement: federal aid for state and local governments. Democrats want $500 billion, while Republicans propose half that amount.  

“We’re hopeful that we can reach agreement because the needs of the American people are so great. But there has to be a recognition that it takes money to do that,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. “We come from two different places” (The Hill). 

While the latest legislation passed by the House has no chance of becoming law, it serves as a messaging bill heading into the final month of the 2020 campaign. Eighteen moderate Democrats voted against the measure, including Reps. Dean Phillips (Minn.) and Cindy Axne (Iowa). Every Republican voted against it (The Hill). 

“This move toward compromise has demonstrably renewed momentum for a deal, and we are closer than we have been in months, but the only thing that will deliver the help my constituents need is a bill that will actually become law,” said Axne, a first-term lawmaker, detailing her opposition to the measure. 

The Associated Press: Democrats press ahead on partisan COVID bill as talks drag.



While the White House continues to pursue a deal with Pelosi, Senate Republicans indicated on Thursday that they have little appetite for the latest proposal by Mnuchin. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, influential Republicans, including members of leadership and committee chairs, balk at a proposal that includes $500 billion more than a bill backed by the GOP-controlled Senate. 

When pressed about the prospect of supporting the latest proposal, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was direct: “No.”  

“I think we’ve made it very clear that there’s so much money … that isn’t even out of Washington yet,” Grassley said. “We’re more in the neighborhood of something below $1 trillion.”  

Some Republicans said that they were uneasy with the inclusion of a $400 per week federal unemployment benefit. However, others just want to see the details and want to see a deal come to fruition sooner rather than later (The Hill).  

“It depends on what’s in it. That’s more than I would want to spend, but I do think it’s important to get something done,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is seeking reelection.

A continued drag in negotiations is also causing problems for multiple U.S. airlines as the initial $50 billion bailout they received as part of the CARES Act in March runs dry. United Airlines and American Airlines began to furlough 32,000 workers on Thursday, having indicated that they would reverse the decision if another round of relief was agreed to. 

“I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome,” Doug Parker, American Airlines’s chief executive, told employees on Wednesday. “It is not what you all deserve” (The New York Times).

Reuters: U.S. airlines face grim winter, with or without a bailout.

The Hill: Company layoffs mount as pandemic heads into fall.

Adding to the situation, the September jobs report is set to be released this morning. The report will be the last one released before Election Day, giving voters one final snapshot of the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged businesses across the country and worked its way into the Oval Office.

According to a Market Watch poll of economists, the report is expected to show that the U.S. added 800,000 jobs, which would mark the first time hiring has dipped below the 1 million mark since May. The unemployment rate — currently at 8.4 percent — is predicted to come in around 8.2 percent. 

The Hill: GOP rejects Democratic bill protecting ObamaCare amid Supreme Court fight. Five Senate Republicans — Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — voted to proceed on the bill.

The Hill: Senate Commerce Committee votes to subpoena Twitter, Google and Facebook.



More in Congress: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) became the first Senate Democrat to meet with Judge Amy Coney Barrett about her nomination to the Supreme Court on Thursday night. According to The Washington Post, the meeting was kept off the books as the White House did not include the meeting on the daily list of sit-downs with senators on Thursday (The Hill).


MORE 2020 POLITICS: Before Friday’s front page announcements that Trump is now in quarantine, Joe Biden told reporters he was feeling positive about his bid for the White House, based on polls and fundraising. 

As The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports, recent surveys suggested the Democratic nominee could win in a blowout against Trump in the Electoral College, a result that could be hazardous to down-ballot Republican Senate candidates desperate to win and hold the majority.   

Nationally, Biden on Thursday was 7 points ahead of Trump, according to the RealClearPolitics national average. In battleground states, Biden leads by more than 5 points in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and Michigan, where he is scheduled to campaign today. He has a narrower lead in Arizona and Florida, while North Carolina has been neck-and-neck. Trump has maintained an edge in Georgia, according to the RCP battleground averages on Thursday. 

The Hill: Biden notches 7-point lead ahead of Trump in New Hampshire.

The former vice president opened up a 13-point lead (54-41 percent) over the president following the first presidential debate, according to a CNBC-Change Research survey released on Thursday, although the debate did not appear to have had a significant impact on the tilt of the presidential race. Only 2 percent of respondents said Tuesday night’s unruly clash changed how they will vote, while 98 percent said it would not (The Hill).

The Biden campaign’s fundraising in September was massive, exceeding August’s $364.5 million haul in joint efforts with the Democratic National Committee, according to reports on Thursday. Biden raised $24.1 million online the day following the debate, on top of $10 million contributed on debate night, according to Bloomberg News and The New York Times

Reuters: Amazon and Big Tech cozy up to the Biden campaign with cash and connections.



Debates: The president’s infection with COVID-19 throws the prospect and scheduling of two upcoming debates into question at a time when the format was under discussion inside the Presidential Debate Commission. Events that called for Trump and Biden to be on stage together were scheduled Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. Pence was scheduled to debate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. 

The New York Times Magazine investigation: The attack on voting in 2020: How President Trump’s false claim of voter fraud is being used to disenfranchise Americans.

The Hill: Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D), who is vying to unseat Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), reported raising a state record $28.3 million in the third quarter, up from $7.4 million in the second quarter. In comparison, Tillis raised $2.6 million in the second quarter and has not reported what he raised in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30. The Cook Political Report continues to rate the race a toss-up. 


CORONAVIRUS: With superior timing, Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover story is about better, faster testing for the virus as the path to an American comeback.

According to the magazine’s reporters, “since the novel coronavirus began circulating in the U.S., the country’s response has been crippled by a failure to see the spread in anything close to real time. Half a year after the first wave of U.S. lockdowns, with more than 200,000 Americans dead from COVID, we’re still playing catch-up. The Trump administration’s botched rollout of its first tests, and the supply chain shortages that followed, helped the disease spread unchecked. Today, processing bottlenecks still render many test results worthless by the time people get them. This blindness has left public-health officials only the crudest measures of containment, such as broad social distancing mandates and lockdowns. It’s turned the loosening of restrictions on restaurants, sports, offices, gyms, and schools into terrifying leaps of faith. And it has surely killed people. 

“The problem of testing has attracted new focus, new thinking, and new money. Experimental viral screening technologies have taken big steps forward, and researchers have found ways to retool existing procedures. Some of that work isn’t likely to pay off in time to change the course of the pandemic, but some of it already has. And the outbreak’s global scale has spurred epidemiologists and policymakers to seek better answers to fundamental questions about the management of a modern plague: not only how to test but whom to test, and why.” 

The Hill: Amazon says over 19,000 of its workers have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic.

The Associated Press: Carnival cancels most 2020 U.S. cruises as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extends a ban. 

> Vaccine: Researchers who are organizing clinical trials for potential COVID-19 vaccines are struggling to recruit members of minority communities to volunteer as study subjects. Scientists say it’s crucial to work with a diverse set of participants — both to study how a potential vaccine impacts people across racial groups and to persuade those communities to accept a vaccine once it goes to market (The Hill).  

Memories are still fresh about decades of medical experiments with syphilis performed on untreated Black sharecroppers under the auspices of the U.S. Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Ala. The syphilis experiments, begun in 1932, were eventually shut down in 1972 after The Associated Press broke the story, sparking public outrage and congressional hearings. The syphilis study led to the adoption of guidelines that protect human subjects in U.S. government-funded research projects 

> Flu shot demand: Because of the pandemic, the United States and Europe are gearing up for a potentially lethal overlap this fall between COVID-19 and influenza infections. A record number of flu vaccine doses are on the way, between 194 million and 198 million for the United States alone. “This year I think everyone is wanting to get their vaccine and maybe wanting it earlier than usual,” said Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the CDC. “If you’re not able to get your vaccination now, don’t get frustrated” but keep trying (The Associated Press).



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 



Inside a California COVID-19 revolt, by Michael Lewis, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. 

Beat COVID-19 without a vaccine, by Laurence Kotlikoff and Michael Mina, opinion contributors, The Wall Street Journal.





Business-friendly taxes, a skilled & growing workforce, and a high quality of life make Ohio better for leaders and employees. If you run a business with room to grow, check out




The House will meet at 9 a.m. The House Oversight and Reform select panel on the coronavirus will hear testimony at 9 a.m. from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (expect lots of questions about Trump’s situation). 

The Senate will convene on Monday at 4:30 p.m., and will resume consideration of the nomination of Michael Newman to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio. 

The president, now in quarantine, will discuss COVID-19 support for seniors by phone at 12:15 p.m. His campaign schedule, which had included plans to travel to Florida today and to Wisconsin on Saturday, was upended by his positive test early this morning for COVID-19.

Biden-Harris campaign events: Biden is scheduled to campaign today in Grand Rapids, Mich., to discuss the economy at 1:20 p.m. EST. Biden is also scheduled to hold a virtual fundraiser this afternoon and attend a mobilization event at 4:40 p.m. EST. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is scheduled to be in Las Vegas, Nev., for a voter mobilization drive-in event at 3:30 p.m. PST.

Economic indicator: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on employment in September. The data are expected to show job gains, but at a slowing pace.

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


Courts: The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors’ group, filed a petition to the Supreme Court Thursday asking it to strike down a rule from the Trump administration barring clinics funded by taxpayers from referring women for abortions (The Hill). 

State Watch: California is expected to roll out reopening guidelines for theme parks this week after being shuttered for more than six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) office said on Thursday that reopening measures will be announced this week by the state’s Department of Health to allow theme parks including Disneyland, California Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood to allow attendees once again (The Hill). 

➔ Bankruptcy: A suburban New York Roman Catholic diocese became the largest to file for bankruptcy on Thursday due to mounting lawsuits stemming from claims of sexual abuse against area priests. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which encompasses most of Long Island, filed for Chapter 11 protection (The Associated Press).


And finally … Congratulations to winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz, about the history of unsettling surprises in October. (Is our quiz timely, or what?)

Going 4/4 to achieve puzzle-master status as we begin the month of October: Phil Kirstein, Daniel Bachhuber, Mary Anne McEnery, Cynthia Whittlesey, Manley Glaubitz, James Egan, Chuck Schoenenberger, Patrick Kavanagh, Tom Miller, Gary Kalian, Ki Harvey, Chris Gallus, Luke Charpentier, Norm Roberts, J. Patrick White, Tim Aiken, John van Santen, Terry Pflaumer, Matthew DeLaune, Bernard Francimore, Shirley McDaniel, David E. Letostak, Chuck Ramsay, Sandy Walters, Ed Mosley, Richard Kolber, Rich Gruber, Allen Reishtein, Jack Barshay, John Donato and William Chittam.

They knew that on Oct. 8, 1871, the devastating Great Fire of Chicago was thought to have been caused by a cow that kicked over a lantern in a barn (History). 

On Oct. 14, 1912, a would-be assassin’s bullet was slowed when it struck former President Theodore Roosevelt in the chest while he campaigned in Milwaukee, Wis. It passed through his thick overcoat, a glasses case and a folded text for his lengthy speech tucked inside his breast pocket (History). 

Academics point to many causes of the “September effect” and a history of October market crashes (October 1929; “Black Monday” in October 1987; and the financial crisis, which began on Sept. 29, 2008). The correct answer from our menu: “All of the above.”  

On Oct. 23, 1983, terrorists killed 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, by driving a sophisticated bomb-laden truck into U.S. headquarters (History).


Tags Chuck Grassley Cindy Axne Coronavirus Cory Gardner Dan Sullivan Dean Phillips Donald Trump economy Gavin Newsom Hope Hicks Jobs report Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Cornyn Joni Ernst Justin Trudeau Martha McSally Melania Trump Mike Pompeo Morning Report Nancy Pelosi relief bill Steven Mnuchin Stimulus Susan Collins Thom Tillis Trump positive test

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