Ivana Trump 'Stressed' and 'Afraid' Over Ex-Husband Donald's Hospitalization: 'He Was Careless'

"He didn't think it would happen to him," Donald Trump's ex-wife Ivana tells PEOPLE

President Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana Trump is staying in touch with their three children and says she’s watching for updates about the president’s health on the news.

“It’s a very difficult time,” Ivana, 71, tells PEOPLE on Saturday. “It’s a stress.”

“I spoke to all my kids and they, of course, are worried,” Ivana says, referring to Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump — the three kids she shares with the president from their marriage, which lasted from 1977-92.

Trump, 74, was taken to Walter Reed Hospital on Friday afternoon after he announced earlier that morning that he and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.

Ivana and Donald Trump
From left: Ivana and Donald Trump. Taylor Hill/Getty Images; Mark Wilson/Getty Images

White House physician Dr. Sean Conley told reporters on Saturday morning that the president has experienced “mild symptoms” thus far and is scheduled to remain under observation for several days. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump’s condition had been “very concerning” Friday and that “the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

News that the sitting president contracted a respiratory illness has upended an already unprecedented election and came roughly seven months into the global pandemic, which Trump’s critics previously said he grossly mishandled.

More than 208,500 people—and counting—have died in the U.S. as a result, while 7.3 million have been infected by the novel coronavirus.

Trump has said he purposefully aimed to downplay COVID-19 in order to avoid “panic,” while being fully aware of the danger behind the highly contagious illness. At the same time, he publicly defied federal and global health experts, flaunted unproven cures and suggestions that the virus would “magically disappear,” and once projected that worry over the spread of the novel virus was merely the Democratic party’s “new hoax,” aimed to damage his presidency.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump walks to the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on Friday. Sarah Silbiger/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
donald trump
Marine One, the presidential helicopter, arrives at the White House to carry President Donald Trump to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Trump sought to secure four more years of his presidency by traveling across the country in recent months to campaign in front of thousands of supporters—he and them both often seen without masks or practicing precautionary social distancing measures.

“He was careless,” Ivana tells PEOPLE of her ex-husband. “He didn’t think it would happen to him.”

The businesswoman and former model says it still came as “a little bit of a shock” that Trump was infected with the coronavirus, because he’s “the cleanest, healthiest person.”

“Not healthiest with food, but very healthy otherwise—always washes his hands and always is careful,” Ivana says. “His only weakness is food. He likes the Big Mac—it’s his biggest weakness.”

On Saturday, Dr. Conley told reporters outside Walter Reed that tests show Trump has “great” cholesterol and blood pressure, though he does have preconditions that can elevate risks among COVID-19 patients.

“He's 74, he's male, and he is slightly overweight,” Conley added. “Other than that, he's very healthy.”

Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare, relaxes at his home with his wife, Ivana Trump
Donald Trump and Ivana Trump in 1987. Joe McNally/Getty

Ivana says she gets updates on the family from her three children every day, but says she won’t share further information because she doesn’t know the details of the president’s current health status.

“I just hope he’s going to get out of it and be healthy,” Ivana says. “But who knows what will happen, because I don’t know anything about this virus and nobody else does and nobody knows how to cure it.”

As for how and if this dramatic health episode will impact her ex-husband’s re-election hopes? “He will win,” she says. “There’s no question about it.”

Ivana’s assessment of her ex-husband’s campaign comes despite his self-inflicted hurdles throughout the pandemic, as well as what she described as a “catastrophic” performance at Tuesday night’s debate with his opponent and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“It was catastrophic on both sides,” Ivana says. “Donald was not well, and Biden was not well at all, so it was just a horrible, horrible debate. I don’t know what people took out of it, but it left me totally empty.”

Still, Ivana is worried first about the president's health. “I am afraid,” she says. “I’m going to be afraid until he gets well and he gets out of it.”

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