How Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis could be a total game changer
With over 7.31 million cases and 208,000 deaths of COVID-19 in the U.S. alone reported on Oct. 2 (via The New York Times), President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join the list of those affected. It was confirmed that the two were diagnosed with the virus in a letter from Dr. Sean Conley, who serves as the president’s physician. Within the letter it read that, “The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” (via CNBC). While neither of the two have yet to develop symptoms, Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis could have a significant impact on his presidential race.
Trump has a few underlying factors that put him at a higher risk to more severe effects of the disease. Because he is within the range of obesity, a male, and 74 years, he has a very viable chance of developing more complications (via Los Angeles Times). The last several months, Trump has implied and said that the pandemic isn’t a huge concern and has consistently downplayed the importance of wearing a mask, and has just recently changed his tune (via The New York Times). But his firsthand experience with the disease could very well change his perspective completely.
How does Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis affect his candidacy?
According to the CDC, after being exposed to coronavirus, it’s imperative that you stay at home for 14 days, regardless of symptoms. And if you test positive or have evidence that you have it, you’ll need to self-isolate for at least 10 days since your symptoms started. This means Trump will need to be away from all staffers, family members, and the public to protect their health, though many team members have most likely already been exposed.
This logically equates to Trump having to miss out on events that relate to his race to serve a second term. Any speeches, rallies, or in-person events won’t be permitted, and even if his team decides to create virtual events in the meantime, if he begins feeling worse, those won’t be possible either. According to his campaign site, he was penciled in to provide thoughts at “Make America Great Again” events in Florida, Wisconsin, and Arizona this upcoming weekend and the following week, which will all need to be postponed or canceled. This could be detrimental to Trump earning votes and meeting with potential supporters.
How does COVID-19 affect Trump's current responsibilities?
Trump had a packed schedule in the coming weeks, not just for his presidential race, but for his regular duties. So far, all upcoming events for today have been canceled (via Forbes) and in order to follow rules and restrictions, he’ll have to avoid any other presidential engagements at least for the next 10 or so days. If things worsen and Trump had to be hospitalized or go on ventilation support, CNBC says there is a chance Vice President Mike Pence would need to step in and take over Trump’s role until he recovered.
Seeing that his condition doesn’t worsen, he should be eligible to return to a regular schedule in a couple of weeks, like other world leaders who have come down with coronavirus. Earlier in the year, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also contracted the illness and had to be hospitalized for several days, three of which he spend in the ICU, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro became ill, too. Both have recovered and have since resumed regular duties (via The New York Times).
Does anyone else in the White House have coronavirus?
Prior to Trump’s diagnosis, one of his aides, Hope Hicks, who has been on the road with the team, had tested positive. According to Newsweek, she self-isolated on the way home from Trump’s debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The same article says she was part of a group that included Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller, who traveled with Trump.
As of right now, it has not been reported that anyone else has contracted the virus. But in the coming days and weeks, more governmental workers on Trump’s close-knit team could very well be at risk of falling ill. The CDC considers close contact to be “[six] feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes,” which his team has easily exceeded. If you discover that you’ve been in close contact with someone, this signals for a two-week quarantine period to start immediately, so many White House staffers most likely will need to do so.
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