United States President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on October 2, just after one of his top aide also tested positive for the disease.
Hope Hicks, a top adviser to Trump, had tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing symptoms. Hicks was known to regularly travel with the president on Air Force One and, along with other senior aides, had accompanied him to Ohio for the US presidential debate.
Trump is 74 years old, which puts him at greater risk of serious complications arising out of the infection.
President Donald Trump’s White House doctor has issued a statement saying the president will continue carrying out his duties “without disruption” after contracting the coronavirus.
Dr. Sean Conley, the physician to the president, says the president and first lady Melania Trump “are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
Trump has canceled plans to attend a fundraiser and to fly to Florida for a rally on Friday, but he did keep on his schedule a previously planned midday telephone call “on COVID-19 support to vulnerable seniors.”
This could not have perhaps come at a worse time for Trump. With just a month to go for the November 3 presidential polls, he is looking to shift gears for his re-election campaign amid a challenge from Democratic Party candidate and former vice president Joe Biden.
Trump testing positive could create hurdles for his campaign. The White House has not confirmed if Trump has shown any symptoms. Either way, he will be required to withdraw from an in-person active campaign and stay isolated until he recovers and is cleared by doctors.
This would mean that he cannot hold crowded campaign events that typically see participation of thousands of people. Trump was relying on these rallies, despite warnings by health experts, as he was trailing Biden in opinion polls.
These developments also cast a shadow on the second presidential debate scheduled for October 15.
However, if he develops symptoms and falls sick, it may lead to a greater question among voters – should Trump remain on the ballot?
Testing positive itself may have cast a shadow on his campaign as Trump has spent months downplaying the pandemic and effects of COVID-19.
The president has come under sharp criticism over his response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has led to more than two lakh deaths in the United States alone. Trump has touted his management of the crisis.
But, as of October 2, 72.6 lakh people in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19. The death toll from the outbreak has surged past 2.07 lakh. The US is the worst-affected country in the world.
Even after White House staff were infected and fell sick, Trump continued to downplay concerns about being personally vulnerable to getting infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The president, a well-known germaphobe, had also refused to wear a protective mask in the West Wing of the White House.“I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” Trump had told reporters in May.
He had publicly asserted that the virus “is going to disappear” and that the situation is under control. Instead, Trump has encouraged governors to reopen their states. He has also tried to focus the nation’s attention on efforts to revive the economy impacted by the pandemic.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic