Coronavirus Updates: President Trump, First Lady begin quarantine process after aide positive for COVID

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NEW YORK (WABC) -- President Donald Trump says he and first lady Melania Trump are beginning a "quarantine process" as they await coronavirus test results after a top aide he spent substantial time with this week tested positive for COVID-19.

Hope Hicks, who serves as Counselor to the President and is among a tight group of advisors to Trump, tested positive this week after traveling with the him on Tuesday to and from the first presidential debate.

White House spokesperson Judd Deere told ABC News tonight: "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."

Late Thursday, President Trump confirmed Hicks' positive test and said that he, and the First Lady were awaiting test results.

On Twitter, the president said that he and his wife Melania were beginning the quarantine process.


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Here are more of today's headlines:



House passes $2.2 trillion COVID stimulus relief bill
The House passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus relief bill late Thursday. The final vote tally was 214-207. Eighteen Democrats voted no on the bill, many of them are moderates who are very unhappy with Nancy Pelosi and leadership for staging what they call a "show" vote on a bill that will never become law. The Republican-led Senate is not expected to take up the measure.

These recommendations could reduce COVID-19 spread on campus
As colleges and universities are dealing with the coronavirus outbreaks on campuses, the CDC announced a new approach that could help prevent or reduce the transmission.

The CDC issued their initial guidance last June, which stated that it "does not recommend entre testing of all returning students, faculty, and staff." At the time the guidance was released, people reported not getting their results for several days or weeks.

But now, testing has been more advanced, and the CDC is saying, "In an IHE (Institutions of higher education) setting, with frequent movement of faculty, staff and students between the IHE and the community, a strategy of entry screening combined with regular serial testing might prevent or reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission."

Brooklyn couple gets surprise of a lifetime after COVID alters wedding plans
A pair of Brooklyn newlyweds who are both essential workers and whose honeymoon was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic got the surprise of a lifetime Thursday, when what they thought was a photo shoot was actually an all-expenses paid honeymoon for when it's safe to travel again.

Amazon counts nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases among its frontline workers
Amazon said Thursday that 19,816 of its front-line employees at Amazon and Whole Foods have tested positive or been presumed positive for the coronavirus, shedding light for the first time on how its workforce has been impacted by COVID-19.

Special education high school teacher loses morale when no students show up
A special education teacher took video of his empty classroom after none of his nine students showed up for first period.

The video was taken at William Cullen Bryant High School on Thursday -- the first day of in-person learning for middle school and high school students in New York City in nearly seven months.

Queens elementary school is 1st in NYC to shut down over COVID cases
An elementary school in Queens will be closed for two weeks after coronavirus exposure of two or more students or staff in multiple classrooms, becoming the first school in New York City to close due to a potential outbreak. The John F. Kennedy Jr School in Elmhurst will remain closed through October 13, according to a letter sent home to families on Wednesday.

"As always, the health and safety of our students and staff, and everyone in the DOE family across the city, is our top priority," the letter read. "As you know, our school building was closed for an initial 24 hours because two or more members of our school community tested positive for COVID-19. Today, we are writing to update you that the NYC Test + Trace Corps and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have determined that at this time the main site building must remain closed for 14 days."

Clusters continue to grow in New York state, Cuomo warns
The average positivity rate in 20 New York zip codes increased to 6.5% Thursday, up a full point from Wednesday. Areas in Brooklyn and Rockland County saw the biggest increases, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Parts of Brooklyn have an average positivity rate of 8%. In Rockland County, it's as high as 16%, but the sample size is smaller. Growing COVID-19 clusters in large Orthodox Jewish communities could spread wider if not quickly contained, Governor Cuomo warned.

1st day of in-person learning for NYC middle and high schoolers
More students across New York City began in-person learning Thursday amid rising COVID cases in some parts of the city. For the first time in nearly seven months, middle and high schoolers are once again back inside the classroom. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza greeted families at One World Middle School in Edenwald.

10 NYC neighborhoods with COVID-19 positivity rates above 3%
There are now 10 neighborhoods in New York City where cases continue to grow at an alarming rate, outpacing the citywide average by 3.7 times over the past 14 days, according to the health department. The health department continues to track four concerning clusters of COVID-19 cases in Southern Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Central Queens and Far Rockaway. Fresh Meadows/Hilcrest has been added as the neighborhood that has surpassed 3% positivity. The 10 are the only neighborhoods in New York City with positivity rates above 3%. Six of the 10 neighborhoods saw increases even from the prior day's report, based on the health department's preliminary data. The areas account for over 27.5% of new cases citywide over the past 2 weeks despite representing 7.5% of the city's overall population.

Sacred Heart University using 'scent tents' to fight COVID-19
Sacred Heart University wants students and staff to stop and smell the roses in the fight against COVID-19, erecting 10 "scent tents" around campus. Loss of smell is a symptom of coronavirus, and each tent is equipped with a large bouquet of roses inside. Sacred Heart has nearly 100 active cases and 106 recovered cases, and 25% of students are randomly tested each week.

"This gives people an opportunity to make a conscious effort to see whether or not you can smell the roses," Chief of Public Safety Gary MacNamara said. "You match that with all the prevention measures we're trying to put forward."

Gas in New Jersey now costs more: Here's what you need to know
New Jersey's gas tax went up nearly 10 cents per gallon Thursday, the second part of a double whammy of hikes for drivers in the Garden State. Toll increases took effect on Sunday, September 13, followed by the gas tax taking effect on October 1. The Department of Treasury says that lower fuel use trends, due in part to COVID-19, necessitated the increase in order to ensure funding to support the state's Transportation Trust Fund program.

International Center of Photography Museum reopens in NYC
The International Center of Photography Museum finally reopened to the public in New York City. The museum, located on the Lower East Side, had been closed since March due to the pandemic. It will open with four exhibits addressing our current tumultuous times. Themes include the pandemic, political chaos, and the rise of anti-racist movements around the world. Earlier this year, people were asked to take photos documenting their world.

NFL postpones Steelers-Titans until later in season after more positive COVID-19 tests
The NFL postponed Sunday's Pittsburgh Steelers game at Tennessee until later in the season after one additional Titans player and one personnel member tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement Thursday came one day after the league said it hoped to play the game on Monday or Tuesday. The NFL said a new game date would be announced "shortly."

"The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel," the league said. "The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice."

Stimulus talks: White House ups bid in last-ditch COVID-19 relief negotiations with Congress
The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill above $1.5 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday. The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain. But the talks have gained momentum as the Trump administration presses for an agreement. On Air Force One Wednesday night, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump made an offer that was "extremely generous and certainly above the $1.5 trillion that has been articulated to date."

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson announces Spring 2022 XFL return
The XFL appears poised for a comeback after a sudden end to a promising revival this year, and it's all thanks to one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Hit play to find out who is behind the comeback. The XFL is making a comeback, and partial league owner Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson just announced a return date. The actor and former WWE star announced on Twitter that the XFL will return Spring 2022.

"It's an uphill battle - but we're hungry, humble and no one will outwork us," he wrote. "A league of culture, passion & purpose."

US layoffs remain elevated as 837,000 seek unemployment aid
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week to a still-high 837,000, evidence that the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery that began this summer. The Labor Department's report, released Thursday, suggests that companies are still cutting a historically high number of jobs, though the weekly numbers have become less reliable as states have increased their efforts to root out fraudulent claims and process earlier applications that have piled up. California, for example, which accounts for more than one-quarter of the nation's aid applications, this week simply provided the same figure it did the previous week. That's because the state has stopped accepting new jobless claims for two weeks so it can implement anti-fraud technology and address a backlog of 600,000 applications that are more than three weeks old.

Stay informed with ABC7's NYC COVID-19 positivity rate tracker
As New York City public schools inch closer to reopening in-person learning, much of the success will rely heavily on schools keeping the COVID rate of infection in check. According to the city, public schools can only stay open if the COVID positivity rate stays below 3%. To stay informed, you can follow ABC7's NYC COVID-19 positivity rate tracker.



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The sense of doom grew, especially after March 1, when the first confirmed case arrived in Manhattan. Soon, there was a hotspot in New Rochelle, and small curfews and containment zones across the area offered a hint of a frightening future we still thought we could avoid.


RELATED: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut out-of-state travelers quarantine list

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