"So whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don't know," Trump said Thursday

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Hope Hicks
| Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director and current adviser to Donald Trump, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Hicks, 31, tested positive for the contagious respiratory virus on Thursday, Bloomberg News and the Associated Press report.

The former public relations consultant traveled with Trump as recently as Wednesday to his campaign rally in Minnesota. She was also on Air Force One with Trump when he traveled to the presidential debate against Joe Biden on Tuesday.

Speaking with Fox News on Thursday evening, Trump said that he had just learned of Hicks' positive test result and it is a "terrible thing."

"She’s a hard worker ... She wears masks a lot," he said on Hannity.

Trump added that both he and First Lady Melania Trump had been tested and were expecting their results Thursday night or Friday.

"So whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don't know," Trump said.

The president said he thought Hicks may have contracted the virus by interacting with members of law enforcement or the military.

"But it’s very, very hard when you are with people from the military or from law enforcement and they come over to you, they want to hug and they want to kiss you because we really have done a  good job for them, you get close and things happen," he said.

"I was surprised to hear with Hope but she’s a very warm person with them and she knows there is a risk."

In a tweet posted after his interview, Trump said that both he and the first lady would be quarantining together as they await the results of their COVID-19 tests: "Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!"

When asked by PEOPLE about Hicks' positive test and Trump's possible exposure Thursday, White House spokesman Judd Deere did not have a comment, instead issuing the following statement:

"The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously. White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the President is traveling."

Hicks is not the first member of the Trump administration to contract the virus.

US President Donald J. Trump, Washington, USA - 29 Mar 2018
Donald Trump and Hope Hicks
| Credit: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Among others, Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman Katie Miller tested positive for COVID-19 back in March.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is an adviser and also is dating  Donald Trump Jr., also tested positive the virus in July.

More than 7.3 million people in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 200,000 people across the country have died from the virus, according to The New York Times' database.

Despite health experts' repeated recommendations to wear masks to prevent the virus' spread, Trump seldom wears a mask in public and has been criticized for his response to the ongoing pandemic.

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