Friday, October 02, 2020

Not totally shocking

When it was announced that one of President Trump's close aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for COVID-19, many wondered aloud if Trump would be able to continue dodging the coronavirus bullet. 

Unfortunately he could not

President Trump announced early Friday that both he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine at the White House, sending shockwaves through the political universe and igniting an outpouring of support for the first family.

Both the president and the first lady are experiencing mild symptoms of the novel coronavirus, the White House said.

“As all of you know the president and the first lady tested positive for COVID-19,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters at the White House Friday. “They remain in good spirits.”

“The president does have mild symptoms, and as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the American people,” Meadows continued, adding that he is not only "in good spirits, but very energetic.”

This isn't entirely surprising when you consider that Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies (albeit outdoors) among hundreds of people crushed together, typically in airport hangar type settings. The relative good news here is the President is tested frequently and was likely tested immediately before Tuesday's presidential debate. As such, this ailment was probably caught as soon as humanly possible. Combine that with the "mild" symptoms he is enduring, Trump is expected to recover fully within a 2-week time frame. 

The fact this news occurred a mere 32 days before Election Day throws into question how this will affect Trump's reelection prospects should he remain in the race. Given that approval ratings of Trump's response to the pandemic have been underwater for some time, his contracting the virus certainly is not going to help his electoral prospects. This may also somewhat vindicate his opponent, Joe Biden, for knocking off campaign activities early for several days this past month. No doubt the Biden camp will spin it as his merely being cautious given we are so close to November 3, particularly in light of Trump's diagnosis. 

What this saga also means is there will be extra emphasis added to Wednesday's debate pitting Vice President Mike Pence against Biden's running mate Kamala Harris. While we're told Trump's symptoms are "mild," we can't ignore how a 74-year old overweight man contracting COVID means he's more susceptible to lingering issues than, say, a healthy 20-something coming down with the virus. With that in mind, Pence absolutely has to be ready to assume the reins of the reelection campaign, maybe even current presidential tasks. And there have been plenty of polls suggesting that many Americans do not believe Biden, if elected, has the wherewithal to endure an entire four years as POTUS, so whomever his Veep candidate is holds extra significance. 

The raging dumpster fire that is 2020 never ceases to stupefy. 


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