It seemed inevitable that some new twist was on the horizon, and here it is. Following news on Thursday night that Hope Hicks, a senior White House advisor, tested positive for Covid-19, there are now confirmed reports that the President and First Lady Melania Trump have also tested positive for the virus. Healthwise, they all seem to be doing well right now but this development will upend an already tenuous campaign.

The news started breaking Thursday night with the President announce Hicks’ positive test result after spending time campaigning and fundraising in Minnesota:

By very early Friday morning, around 1 am ET, the President announced that he and the First Lady had also tested positive:

Given his age, at 74, the President is considered in the higher risk category for being more susceptible to Covid-19 under certain conditions.

Trump’s diagnosis was sure to have a destabilizing effect in Washington, raising questions about how far the virus had spread through the highest levels of the U.S. government. Hours before Trump announced he had contracted the virus, the White House said a top aide who had traveled with him during the week had tested positive.

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

Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House on Thursday evening and did not appear visibly ill. Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide.

The president’s physician said in a memo that Trump and the first lady, who is 50, “are both well at this time” and “plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”

Assuming the President and First Lady recover and do not develop any serious symptoms, what does this mean for campaigning? The President’s schedule has already been cleared for the next two weeks. The timing is crucial because the month of October offers the last remaining weeks before Election Day on Nov. 3. The President was scheduled to make numerous campaign stops, rallies, and fundraising appeals around the country. Some of that can now be done remotely with video calls, but the President will be essentially off the campaign trail for in-person campaigning.

What About Debates?

Worth noting is that Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence both tested negative. This means the vice presidential debate, scheduled for next week on Oct. 5, will still likely go forth as planned assuming the Vice President remains uninfected and healthy. In the meantime, look for Pence to pick up some of the in-person campaign events where the President left off.

The timeframe for the President’s diagnosis would put his isolation period ending right around the second presidential debate set for Oct. 15. It’s possible this debate could be rescheduled depending on the circumstances.

Biden’s Reaction

Minutes ago, former Vice President Joe Biden sent his condolences and prayers to the President and Mrs. Trump:

Hours earlier, however, Biden was hammering Trump over the federal response to Covid-19, perhaps on the tail of the news that Hope Hicks had tested positive:

There is no question politically speaking that the President’s diagnosis gives the Biden campaign a new talking point about taking the virus seriously. Even if the President is largely asymptomatic, the issue is now on the table of whether the White House has taken strong enough precautions when campaigning around the country in recent weeks.

It should also be noted concerning all the large public events held by the President since August:

Trailing in the polls, the president in recent weeks increasingly held crowded campaign events in defiance of public health guidelines and sometimes state and local governments.

When he accepted the nomination on the final day of the Republican National Convention, he invited more than 1,000 supporters to the South Lawn of the White House and has held multiple rallies around the country since, often with hundreds and even thousands of people jammed into tight spaces, many if not most without masks.

A health official in Tulsa blamed the President’s rally back in July for contributing to an uptick in local cases. However, there have been few if any other reports of an uptick in cases or infection rates associated with any of the President’s recent campaign activities which have been held outdoors.

The positive Covid-19 diagnosis will make it harder to ignore the topic for a campaign eager to pivot toward the economy. You can already hear the first question at the next presidential debate from moderator Steve Scully:

“Mr. President, does your positive Covid-19 test reveal that you and your staff haven’t taken the virus seriously enough?”

We will know more in the coming days but, for now, it appears that the President is healthy and will be monitored closely for the next two weeks.