Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan and 7 Other Presidents Who Became Ill While in Office
President Trump announced he and First Lady Melania tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2 — but he isn't the first president to fall ill during his time in office
President Trump announced early on Oct. 2, 2020, that he and First Lady Melania tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Just hours before, it was confirmed the president's adviser Hope Hicks had the contagious virus.
"Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!" Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after midnight Friday.
Mrs. Trump, 50, tweeted minutes later that she and her husband were "feeling good."
"As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19," she wrote. "We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together."
The couple was experiencing "mild symptoms" in the hours after they tested positive, according to Mark Meadows, the president's chief of staff.
"The president does have mild symptoms and as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the American people," Meadows told reporters on Oct. 2.
On March 30, 1981, President Reagan was shot in the chest by John Hinckley Jr. after giving a speech to AFL-CIO leaders in D.C. Hinckley allegedly tried to kill Reagan in 1981 in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he became infatuated with after watching her play an underage prostitute in Taxi Driver. The bullet just missed Reagan's heart, and the then 70-year-old president walked unassisted to the emergency room, according to Politico. He made a full recovery.
Along with Reagan, Hinckley shot Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, in the head and two security men, who suffered less serious injuries. Brady died in 2014.
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was admitted to a mental hospital, where he was eventually released in 2016.
John F. Kennedy
Portrayed to the public as the picture of health, the youngest president ever elected — at age 43 — was secretly suffering from Addison's disease, or adrenal insufficiency, and hypothyroidism.
Although Kennedy's team was able to keep the diagnosis largely silent, he did collapse twice in public because of the disease, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
According to the National Institute of Health, the 34th president "suffered several serious illnesses," most notably a heart attack in Denver, Colorado, in September 1955 during his first term.
Eisenhower spent seven weeks in the hospital before he was re-elected for a second term the following November.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The 32nd president, who served an unprecedented four terms, did so while suffering from a range of symptoms related to polio, which he was diagnosed with at the age of 39 in 1921.
He died 83 days into his fourth and final term, following a massive cerebral hemorrhage, according to PBS.
A notorious workaholic, Wilson suffered tremendous stress from the presidency — including navigating the country through World War I — which took an immense toll on his body. Then, in April 1919, he became ill from the Spanish Flu, according to PBS.
In September 1919, after Wilson failed to get the Senate to sign the Treaty of Versailles to formally end World War I, he collapsed from stress. The following month, he suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. (He was also rumored to have had a series of strokes in the years prior.)
During these illnesses, it is understood that Wilson's wife Edith took on the role of his speaker and representative, essentially taking on the role of de facto president until the end of her husband's term in 1921.
The 22nd president discovered a tumor on the roof of his mouth in 1893, and it was secretly removed during a 90-minute procedure on a yacht.
Cleveland announced a four-day "fishing trip" to cover up the surgery as the country was heading into a depression and he did not want the news to disrupt the stock market. According to NPR, the key to keeping the procedure a secret was maintaining Cleveland's signature mustache.
William Henry Harrison
The ninth president and the first to die in office, William Henry Harrison fell ill from pneumonia less than a month after his inauguration. He died on April 4, 1841, just 32 days into his presidency.
The very first president dealt with serious illnesses, including a tumor that required him to rest for six weeks only two months into his first term.
He also suffered from several other ailments during his lifetime, including influenza, tuberculosis, smallpox and a painful boil "the size of two fists," according to the Washington Post.