What A Positive Covid-19 Test Means For The President
President Trump’s positive Covid-19 test leads to new questions about the upcoming election, campaigning, and the continuity of our government.
This morning our country woke up to the surprising news that President Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus vaccine that has been plaguing the country — and the world — for the better part of the last 8 months. With this stunning revelation, our country has entered into a perilous phase that we have not experienced since the death of JFK: worrying about the continuity of our government if a President is incapacitated or dies.
President Trump tweeted the news early Friday morning his personal twitter account in part stating “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.” This news came as quite a shock at a time when many in the nation were either sleeping or preparing to wind down for the night.
This past week alone, several high profile events have occurred in which the President and other members at the highest levels of our federal government have congregated and mingled amongst each other: the announcement of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barret on Saturday, September 26th at the White House, the first Presidential Debate on Tuesday, September 29th with Vice President Joe Biden and other members of Trump’s family and government in attendance, a meeting between Trump and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday, September 30th before Mnuchin headed to Capitol Hill for a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to negotiate an ongoing stimulus package.
With so much happening every day at the highest level of government, we are sure to see a scramble to conduct a wide contact tracing program as members of our government are constantly meeting with not just each other but others in the country for meetings and policy discussions. What this could mean for the next few months is unsure but from what we’ve seen from those who have tested positive in the past, the President can either show no symptoms at all and recover quickly or face possible intubation or death in the worst-case scenario. Due to these concerns, a new discussion has arisen about the continuity of our government should that time arise. Vice President Mike Pence announced Friday morning he had tested negative and would be the next person in line for the Presidency should President Trump becoming incapacitated or unable to discharge his duties.
Moving away from the issues with our government, there are still other major events scheduled for this week and later this month: two more Presidential debates, a Vice Presidential debate less than six days away, and several campaign rallies that the President had planned on attending in the final days of the campaign season before voters head to the polls on November 3rd. It will likely be several days before we learn the fate of these events but what is certain is that CDC guidelines require positive Covid-19 patients to quarantine for fourteen days. Will a President who has constantly flaunted or outright ignored and challenged health recommendations follow those guidelines or continue his stamped down the campaign trail? Regardless of what you think of the President, this moment will likely have a monumental impact on the trajectory of the campaign in the last thirty-three days.