President Trump and First Lady Contract COVID-19

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. – President Trump is in Cleveland, Ohio for the first of three presidential debates. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

On Friday, Oct. 2 at 12:54 a.m., President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that he and the First Lady had tested positive for the coronavirus. The tweet read: “Tonight, [the First Lady] and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” 

Only 32 days before the Presidential Election, this announcement will prove challenging for the Trump Campaign, as he is unable to attend events for at least the next 14 days, potentially longer if he shows symptoms. An article by Peter Baker and Megan Haberman in “The New York Times” wrote that if Trump does start to show symptoms, “it could raise questions about whether he should remain on the ballot at all.” 

Although the White House did not specify how long Trump and the First Lady would remain in isolation, his campaign rally scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2 in Florida was canceled. Trump’s schedule for Friday, Oct. 2 was entirely stripped aside from a midday phone call regarding “COVID-19 support to vulnerable seniors.” Upcoming rallies within the next few days have also been canceled, such as events scheduled to be held in Wisconsin and Arizona.

White House physician Dr. Sean P. Conely stated: “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…Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.” The White House has not released whether or not the President and First Lady are experiencing symptoms, but they have assured the nation that Trump will continue to work from his home while in isolation. 

Trump’s contraction of COVID-19 could prove damaging to not only his health but also his campaign efforts. The President has downplayed the gravity of the virus for months, despite the loss of over 207,000 American lives due to the pandemic. He has made it clear for months that he does not believe scientific claims which demonstrate the effectiveness of wearing a mask, and has refused to do so in public. He has repeatedly brushed away the seriousness of the pandemic, asserting that the virus was “going to disappear” and that the end of the pandemic was “rounding the corner.” 

There is a possibility that Trump and the First Lady contracted the virus from Hope Hicks, a close adviser of the president. On Wednesday, Hicks accompanied Trump on a flight to Minnesota for a campaign rally. She began to feel sick and was quarantined on the flight home, disembarking from the back of the plane when it landed in Washington, DC. Hicks’ positive diagnosis was released on Thursday when Trump informed Fox News that he too was awaiting his test results. 

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden announced in a tweet on Oct. 2 at 12:22 p.m. that he and his wife have reported negative test results for the coronavirus. The tweet stated: “I’m happy to report that Jill and I have tested negative for COVID. Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern. I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”

The 25th Amendment makes it possible for a medically incapacitated President to confer power to the Vice President for a short time and then reclaim authority after they have recovered. The amendment, ratified in 1967, has only been used three times: in 1985 by President Ronald Regan during a colonoscopy, in 2002 and 2007 by President George W. Bush also during colonoscopies. The possibility is there for Trump to transfer authority to Vice President Mike Pence while he remains in isolation. 

The President’s diagnosis will potentially damage his campaign efforts as his focus has been away from the seriousness of the pandemic which has taken the lives of countless Americans. The New York Times explains that “Since Reagan was shot in 1981, no president has been known to confront a life-threatening condition while in office.” More information will be sure to follow Trump’s recent diagnosis as well as his plans for the remainder of the campaign for the 2020 election. 

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