With just 30 days until the 2020 election, it will be here before you know it. With President Donald Trump still at Walter Reed medical center battling Covid-19, the presidential race has effectively frozen in place. Below are five questions about Trump’s health — and what it means for his ability to campaign (or not) — that everyone wants answered.
5. Does this change Trump?:
I think the answer to this is “no,” because, well, nothing seems to change Trump.
But if anything might get him to change his decidedly cavalier attitude about this virus, it’s getting Covid-19 and experiencing a number of serious symptoms — high fever, low oxygen levels — might be it.
Trump hasn’t said much since being diagnosed with the virus late last week other than to release a few videos aimed at reassuring the public that he is handling the virus well.
Assuming Trump recovers and returns to the campaign trail (much more on that below), does he change anything about how he talks about the virus? Or about Biden and his mask-wearing? (Trump mocked Biden in the first debate for an alleged over-dependence on wearing a mask). Does he urge his supporters to take the virus more seriously?
Or does he do nothing? Or even worse, say that the virus isn’t that bad because he had it and recovered?
With Trump, as always, anything is possible.
4. What does Joe Biden do?:
The former vice president has faced a lot of odd (and fraught) political situations. But none that would even remotely prepare him for this: His opponent, the President of the United States, is in the hospital fighting a virus that has sickened more than 7 million Americans and killed more than 209,000.
Biden continued to campaign on Friday — in Grand Rapids, Michigan — following the news of Trump’s positive test. But his campaign did announce that it was pulling all of its negative ads in the wake of the news.
What now, though? The final 30 days of a campaign are always the nastiest — and this campaign has been deeply personal from the start. Days before Trump’s diagnosis, Biden called the President a “clown” and a “racist” and told him to “shut up” in the pair’s first debate.
Much depends — probably — on Trump. If the President returns to the campaign trial and continues his blasting of Biden, well, game on.
The bigger question is what happens if Trump continues to face health challenges or never returns to the campaign trail. Does Biden end the race entirely positive? Does he stay positive on TV but draw contrasts in speeches, debates etc.?
There’s simply no blueprint for this. Any of it.
3. Will Trump campaign again?:
Even if Trump is released from the hospital early this week, does that mean he will return to the campaign trail before November 3?
Trump, who sees the rallies as the lifeblood not just of the campaign but of his presidency, will undoubtedly want to get back to them as soon as he can.
But will he be well enough to do it? After all, there is a HUGE difference between being released from the hospital and being well enough to headline rallies attended by thousands of people.
Of course, these large campaign events have always been dangerous in the age of Covid — as putting lots of people together creates the possibility of a super-spreading event the likes of which we appear to have possibly had last Saturday during the Supreme Court nomination announcement in the Rose Garden.
Trump has, prior to his illness, brushed aside those concerns — mockingly calling his rallies “peaceful protests” and downplaying the risks to attendees.
2. Can Trump debate? Should he?:
The next presidential debate is set for October 15 in Miami. Based on the at-times confusing timeline offered by the White House, Trump tested positive for coronavirus at some point on Thursday, October 1. He was showing signs of illness that same day.
Which means that he could, in theory, participate in the debate. According to the CDC’s guidelines, a person with Covid-19 can be around others 10 days after the onset of symptoms, assuming they have no fever and other coronavirus-related symptoms are improving.
That, of course, assumes that he will be well enough to do so. And we don’t know that yet. (Much more on that below.)
What if Trump isn’t well enough to make the debate? Or the Biden team doesn’t feel comfortable with being in such an enclosed space with the President and his entourage — a number of whom have also tested positive?
On a related note: Vice President Mike Pence is set to debate California Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday in Salt Lake City. Despite being potentially exposed to a number of people who have the coronavirus, Pence has been told by the White House physician’s office that he is clear to debate.
If either of these next two debates is canceled, can they be rescheduled? These debates take a massive amount of logistics and scheduling so I would tend to doubt it.
1. How sick is Trump, really?:
We are getting all sorts of mixed messages from the President’s medical team and his political team.
Minutes after White House physician Sean Conley said on Saturday that “the President is doing very well,” a “source familiar with the President’s health” said this:
“The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
Which is, uh, not the same thing.
On Sunday, Conley said that Trump had a “high fever” on Friday morning and was given supplemental oxygen despite his resistance to doing so. “The President has continued to improve,” said Conley. Trump’s medical team said he might be released as soon as Monday.
Trump’s lack of transparency in all facets of his administration seems to carry over to his medical team and his health as well.
Here’s what we do know: 1) Trump was having difficulty breathing on Friday and had a fever 2) He was given supplemental oxygen at the White House 3) he was transported to Walter Reed Friday night 4) He had not required any additional oxygen since arriving at Walter Reed.
And we also know that at 74 years old and obese, technically speaking, Trump is at a higher risk of having complications from Covid-19.
The simple fact is that the contradicting updates coming out of Trumpworld make it very hard to know whether he has a very mild case or is serious ill — or somewhere in between. Which is troubling.