US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have contracted the coronavirus. Since this diagnosis, many others close to the president have gotten the infectious disease and the virus is posing a threat to the Trump campaign. Read more to find out more about how Trump is doing and how this illness is going to affect the upcoming election.
Donald Trump recently posted on his twitter page that he and First Lady, Melania Trump, had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The diagnosis came after a Trump aide, Hope Hicks, tested positive upon returning from Cleveland (the location of the first presidential debate held Wednesday of last week). Reports indicate that the Trumps began quarantining even before testing positive, following Hicks positive diagnosis. A lot has changed since then, with Donald Trump moving from a quarantine facility in the White House to Walter Reed Medical Centre, where he is currently receiving treatment. President Trump was reportedly sent to the facility after having a fever and other mild COVID-19 symptoms for 24 hours. Various sources have reported that his vitals were low and he needed supplemental oxygen upon his arrival at the hospital and that the next two days are critical for Trump's health. Despite those reports, Trump tweeted this past Saturday saying he is grateful for the support of the medical staff serving him and he is feeling ‘much better’. Physicians close to Trump say that they are ‘cautiously optimistic’.
Trump has had a laissez-faire attitude toward the virus and was not seen wearing a mask at any point during Wednesday night’s debate. While Democratic nominee Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID, many people close to Trump other than his wife and Hope Hicks have come down with the virus, per the Washingtonian magazine and other sources. These people include notable politicians such as former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, as well as two serving Republican Senators. Many Trump campaign officials, including Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, have also come down with the virus. Outside of Trump’s campaign, 11 staffers at the first debate in Cleveland have tested positive alongside others who have interacted with Trump, including an unknown marine and an unknown cafeteria worker. This is just a few of many people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 after interactions with the President and other members of his team.
With the 2020 Presidential Election about four weeks away, Trump’s diagnosis raises a major question as to what this means for his campaign. Straight after Trump’s diagnosis, the Biden campaign made the executive decision to remove all negative advertising against Trump until he was able to recover from COVID-19 Despite this kind and generous action, the Trump campaign has refused to do the same for Joe Biden. The Trump campaign is unwilling to take a hiatus as the President recovers, meaning it is likely their campaign rallies will also go ahead. There is further evidence of this as COVID-19-free (as at the time of writing) campaign surrogates such as VP Mike Pence and Trump’s adult children, Don and Ivanka Trump, appear poised to take over his events. They are even trying to find solutions for Donald himself to remain involved, such as drive-in rallies and virtual events once his health improves. The biggest question, however, is whether Trump will be able to participate in the debate on the 15th of October. If he does not recover in time, this debate may be cancelled.
All of this inevitably raises the question of what would happen if Trump became too unhealthy to continue as President, or possibly even died. While these outcomes seem far-fetched, there is still a chance they could happen and it is worth noting his successor. As one would expect, the first person to take over from Donald Trump should he be unable to continue due to health issues would be sitting Vice President Mike Pence. If Pence were unable to assume power - potentially because of his ill health - the role would go to the Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. This would mean a drastic change in leadership, as Pelosi's liberal policies are starkly in contrast to Trump and Pence's conservative outlook.
If Pence were to replace Trump before the election, the Republicans would hold an election amongst major people in the party (i.e. Republican Senators and Representatives) to decide who would become their new nominee. The salient point here is that even if Pence were to replace Trump temporarily upon his death, it wouldn't guarantee Pence the Republican nomination. Assuming Joe Biden can remain well, he will remain the Democratic nominee. Having said all of this, the most probable solution remains a Trump recovery and return to complete (what we hope will be) his last month as President.