EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Scott Atlas, a special adviser on coronavirus to President Trump, said Friday he expects the president and first lady to make a “complete, full and rapid recovery” after the two tested positive for COVID-19, adding, “there is zero reason to panic.”
During an exclusive interview with Fox News, Atlas said the novel coronavirus is an infection “that is very difficult to avoid.”
“It is no surprise that people get the infection, even with precautions,” Atlas said. “I anticipate a complete and full and rapid recovery back to normal after his necessary confinement period. I anticipate he’ll be back on the road and in full swing.”
Atlas is not the president's personal physician, but a special adviser on the coronavirus pandemic and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Atlas called the president a “super vigorous man,” adding that he has “never seen anyone with more energy and more vigor, at any age, but particularly at his age.”
“He is a very, very healthy guy,” Atlas said. “And the overwhelming majority of people, even at his age, do fine with this. He is very healthy, and so I anticipate the same for him.”
When asked about the first lady, Atlas also maintained that “she is not a high-risk person at all and I anticipate she will do perfectly well.”
Atlas stressed that the president and first lady’s positive test results “change nothing” about what “should already be known.”
“This is a widespread, highly contagious infection, and this is going to be very mild or asymptomatic for the overwhelming majority of people, especially if you’re a healthy person,” he explained. “And if you can, do your best at the usual mitigation — hand washing, social distancing, the usual masks, if you are in very tight spaces and you cannot socially distance, or are with high-risk family members.”
He added: “This is a disease that spreads, we anticipate that people get this infection, and it does not go away by isolating or locking down.”
“There is zero reason to panic,” Atlas said. “There is nothing different here. The president and his wife are human beings.”
Atlas stressed that the president “always” takes precautions, following social distancing guidelines, and said he is tested regularly, and “wears a mask in appropriate settings.”
“We know the severe harms of locking down with prolonged isolation and prolonged closures of schools and businesses, and nothing has changed about the message—which is, this is a widespread infection, the vast majority of people do well, we need to protect the highest risk people and open schools up and society and get back to functioning,” Atlas said.
He added: “We are all highly optimistic at the White House.”
As for how the president’s positive test impacts the 2020 election cycle, Atlas told Fox News that he is “sure there will be vigorous campaigning from a distance during this next 10 days to two weeks.”
Atlas’ comments come after Trump and the first lady announced early Friday that they both tested positive for COVID-19.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” the president tweeted. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.”
He added: “We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Melania Trump also tweeted, "As too many Americans have done this year, @POTUS & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together."
Dr. Sean P. Conley, the president’s physician, also confirmed Trump and the first lady’s positive COVID-19 tests.
“This evening I received confirmation that both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the SARS-coV-2- virus,” Conley said. “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 White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions,” he continued.
He added: “Rest assured I expected the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for COVID-19.
“As has been routine for months, Vice President Pence is tested for COVID-19 every day. This morning, Vice President Pence and the Second Lady tested negative for COVID-19,” Pence Press Secretary Devin O’Malley tweeted. “Vice President Pence remains in good health and wishes the Trumps well in their recovery.”
The president and first lady’s diagnoses came just hours after news surfaced that senior White House adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID-19.
According to a source familiar, Hicks – who has been traveling with the president this week – began showing symptoms of coronavirus Wednesday night, either during or after Trump's Duluth, Minn., campaign event. She was quarantined aboard Air Force One on the way back and tested positive on Thursday morning, the source said.