Should Trump continue his presidential duties while infected with COVID?
- There have been a total of 7.7 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 215,735 deaths.
- On Friday, October 2, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus. Trump will remain in office, but will be home for two weeks, and will cancel campaign events.
- In order to monitor Trump’s health, he was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center temporarily.
- Trump returned to the White House Monday, October 5, where he “took off his mask and gave a thumbs up before walking inside.”
- Since last week, 20 people in Trump’s circle have tested positive for coronavirus.
COVID-19 can be a serious and debilitating condition, and cognitive dysfunction is among the possible effects. President Trump appeared to be having breathing difficulties during a recent public appearance, suggesting that he is experiencing severe symptoms. According to a Reuters report, 'the fact that he has been started on dexamethasone—a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation—is the strongest evidence yet that his case may be severe.' This all raises concerns about his continued health and ability to perform his presidential duties while monitoring the possibility of his spreading the virus further. Several staffers and others in the president's vicinity have already tested positive for COVID-19. This is concerning in light of how often we see the president without a mask, especially since the CDC has recently confirmed the airborne virus can spread further than 6 feet.
Trump has been criticized for downplaying the pandemic before. This appears to be another example of such irresponsible behavior. A recent study names Trump as the 'world's biggest spreader of coronavirus misinformation,' and, as Rob Breakenridge wrote for Global News, 'It's not just the disdain for mask-wearing, but his downplaying of the whole pandemic itself and his dismissive attitude toward medical experts and scientific evidence.' The WHO suggests self-isolating 'for 14 days even after symptoms have disappeared as a precautionary measure.' The president's refusal to do so not only puts those around him at risk, it sends the message to others that quarantining isn't important.
Donald Trump should absolutely continue his Presidential duties while he recovers from COVID-19. It's obvious to all that President Trump is vigorous, alert, and under excellent medical care. He can make important decisions, sign Executive Orders, and continue to meet with national security officials. He can coordinate with military leaders, intelligence officers, and Cabinet members in the Oval Office, by phone, or by video conferencing, which he has done frequently since 'Day One' of his Presidency.
Trump can forego non-essential public and private in-person meetings, political rallies, festivities, and celebratory events until he's clear of the viral load in about a week. Until then, he can keep his hands on the levers of power, authorize actions, and meet telephonically and via video. He can also prepare for his next two Presidential debates with Joe Biden. 'The president of the United States is capable of conducting his job potentially from anywhere, at any time,' said Lauren Baer, a former Obama senior advisor in the State Department who worked on the Ebola response.
'My concern stems from whether the coronavirus might potentially incapacitate the president or other senior administration officials.'
This worry about the president potentially infecting staff and visitors is one that has to be taken seriously. The White House will have to launch an ongoing strategic contact-tracing effort to prevent any further infections to White House personnel. Even from a purely symbolic point-of-view the president's continued vigilance and active presence in the White House sends a message of strength to the American public, the financial markets, and the world at large, which many consider much needed at this time in history.