Trump tests Positive for Coronavirus; how will it impact the US Election?

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On Friday, 02 October 2020, The president of the United States announced that he and the First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He took to twitter stating- “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”.

How serious can the infection be?

The mortality rate of the virus is not extreme, so juts being tested positive in itself is not a cause for panic or a signal for any urgent action. Sean P Conley, Trump’s physician, has said that “The president, as well as the First Lady, are both well, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence. The president can, however, continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering”.

Trump, the 74-year-old president, belongs to the worst-hit demographic in the world in terms of virus spread.

In an advisory update on September 11, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that as people get older, the risk from the novel coronavirus increases. For example, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The highest risk recorded for severe illness is among 85 years or older.

So far, over 2 lakh people have passed away because of the infection in the US alone. Eight in 10 of these deaths were of the people aged 65 years or older.

Another problem is Trump’s weight, which is one of the classic co-morbidities that make Covid-19 serious. On the basis of his physical carried out in April, he weighed 244 pounds — at 6 feet 3 inches tall. He has a body mass index of 30.5, which technically falls under the ‘obese’ category. The reports and observations reveal that obese individuals are three times more at risk of landing up in the hospital than others. Apart from this, there is no other serious medical condition that can put him at risk.

On the other hand, Melania Trump is only 50 years old. Her general health conditions are not much wider known except that she is a former model and looks in excellent physical shape.

What symptoms is President Trump show?

 There is still no official declaration about it by the president. Unnamed sources at White House say that they have noticed his voice sounding a little “raspy” on Thursday. However, this cannot be taken very seriously because there is still no rigid evidence.

How did Trump come in contact with the infection?

It is extremely hard to identify the source of contact now as he has been involved in a lot of activities lately from re-election campaigns to rallies. He has met thousands of people in these events, that too without a mask, proudly.

He has rarely been seen wearing a mask, which makes him very vulnerable to the virus.

Just before announcing his positive report, he had tweeted that one of his closest advisors have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

He tweeted- “Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for COVID 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!”

What will happen now?

The 25th amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which was ratified by President John F Kennedy in 1963, has a clear cut procedure to the forthcomings if a president unprecedently passes away, resigns, or is incapacitated while still in office.

Despite the presence of high technology to help him isolate, a challenge is posed ahead of the people who are in close contact with him, including the Secret Service who protect him.

A research paper also said that it is quintessential to keep the Vice President (Mike Pence), Speaker (Nancy Pelosi), Senator (Chuck Grassley), and the cabinet members isolated from the President to ensure their safety. Especially, the Vice President needs to be kept safe by avoiding contact with the President as well as other infected individuals.

In case Trump falls severely sick (which is quite unlikely to happen as of now), he would have to devote all his energy to therapies, in turn, leaving him unfit for carrying out the office duties. In such a case, under section 3 of the 25th amendment to the constitution, the President can transmit to the house and Senate “a declaration in writing that he is unable to discharge his duties”. When section 3 is invoked, the Vice President takes the charge of the House and Senate by becoming the “Acting President”. In this case, this responsibility would be transferred to Pence until Trump notifies Congress that he is able to reperform his duties,

As per the section 4 of the 25th amendment, the Vice President and a majority of either the Cabinet or any other body established by law can also declare the president as “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”. This can be done by sending a written declaration to Grassley and Pelosi after which, Pence (Vice President) will immediately take hold of the presidential responsibilities. Pense would assume the powers until Trump responds that he is not disabled and can carry out the office work, in writing. The vice president and the cabinet have been given a time period of four days to respond to this notice.

Has this happened earlier?

It was in 1985 when Ronal Reagan was the president and, former Vice President George Bush briefly assumed presidential responsibilities. After which section 3 was invoked again for medical reasons in 2002 and 2007, when George W Bush was President, temporarily turning over power to then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

The 25th amendment has been invoked for the same reason — a colonoscopy.

How will the US election 2020 be impacted?

Currently, this is a high priority issue for the president.

US presidential elections are to be held on November 3, which is nearly just a month away. Trump being positive is a huge fallback for the party because now he can no longer personally address the rallies and campaigns for a yet-unknown number of days.

Trump’s favorite campaigning style is to personally address and interact with his allies. This seeming near to impossible now is definitely going to infuriate him.

It is to early to ascertain now that if he would have to be hospitalized like United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, what would happen in the senate. Without a doubt, his being diagnosed with the virus is a crystal clear proof of mishandling and irresponsible dealing of the virus. He has incessantly jeopardized his biggest political rival, Joe Biden, for wearing a mask all the time.

Ironically, just a few hours before him being positive, he said that the “end of the novel coronavirus pandemic is in sight, and next year in the United States will be one of the greatest years in the history of the country.

What if the President and Vice President are both unable to serve?

Practically, this is very unlikely to happen but in case both of them were to fall sick or die, the constitution has a full-fledged line of succession. As per the rules in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, if both President and Vice President (that is Trump and Pence) are unable to look after the parliament, US House of Representatives Speaker and California Democrat (in this case Nancy Pelosi) will take over as commander-in-chief of the United States.

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