On October 1, 2020, at 9:54 p.m. PT, President Trump announced via Twitter that both he and the First Lady were tested positive for COVID-19. The news broke merely hours after President Trump sent his well wishes to senior advisor Hope Hicks, who had tested positive for the virus that morning. Upon learning the news, Vice President Mike Pence and the Second Lady were administered tests that showed them to be negative. There is significant uncertainty surrounding how and when the president became ill, and what others may be afflicted.
In the week prior to the President’s announcement, he and many others participated in three rallies, two campaign events, and one fund-raiser, in addition to both a Supreme Court nomination ceremony and the first presidential debate. Donald and Melania Trump attended an outdoor ceremony for SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House Rose Garden, and of the roughly 200 people who attended, few were maintaining social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.
Among those attendees, the New York Times reports that five are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19: Utah Senator Mike Lee, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, counselor Kellyanne Conway, Former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, as well as President of Notre Dame John I. Jenkins. Politico reports that another Senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, has also tested positive. Another Politico report confirms that both Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel had contracted the virus.
On Sept. 29, President Trump met on-stage with former Vice President Joe Biden at the first presidential debate in Cleveland, OH. Joe and Jill Biden have since tested negative for the virus. Trump has been criticized for disparaging Biden on the grounds of COVID-19 prevention, “When needed, I wear masks. I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen”, said the POTUS. The New York Times reports that following the debate, “On Wednesday evening, a small coterie of advisers spoke with one another about Ms. Hicks’s symptoms as they flew home aboard Air Force One. Ms. Hicks was isolated in a separate cabin. She exited from the back of the plane, as opposed to the front.” It was Sept. 30 when it became apparent that advisor Hope Hicks was exhibiting symptoms.
On Oct. 1, Sean Hannity of Fox News hosted President Trump for an interview. When they spoke briefly about Hope Hicks’ test, Trump remarked, “So she did test positive. I just heard about this. She’s a hard worker, a lot of masks, she wears masks a lot, but she tested positive. And I just went out with a test… The First Lady just went out with a test also, so whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know.”
One day after testing positive, on Oct. 2, President Trump was airlifted via Marine One to Walter Reed Military Medical Facility in Bethesda, Maryland. Over the weekend, his reported treatment consisted of Dexamethasone, Remdesivir, and an experimental antibody cocktail known as Regeneron. While the antibody cocktail is currently in clinical trials, President Trump received this treatment out of “compassionate use,” an exception made for ill patients to access drugs that have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Spending three days at Walter Reed, President Trump returned to the oval office Monday evening, and since Wednesday, October 7th has reportedly been symptom-free. No additional details have been offered on President Trump’s continued use of the provided treatments nor if the president has been cured and beaten the virus.
Since President Trump’s return to the White House, he has posted a video regarding an update on his health and calling on regulators to give authorization for multiple drugs including Regeneron, which he cites as being essential to his speedy recovery. “I think we’re going to work it so you will get them for free, and especially if you are a senior, we will get it to you quick,” President Trump stated in the video.
While President Trump encourages the treatments to be passed immediately for emergency use, this could be a potential risk because it could cause drugs to be used for treatment before they have been fully developed. Many have also posed concerns as to if companies will be able to meet global demand with drug production if those drugs are approved by the FDA before the end of the year.
Additionally, President Trump did not have to pay for his treatment, as his COVID healthcare was paid for by the Federal Government. President Trump’s COVID-19 treatment could cost in upwards of $100,000 for the average American. Remdesivir currently costs $3,120 when bought by private insurance companies, and $2,340 with public healthcare programs. Regeneron is currently being provided no charge to compassionate-use patients and clinical trial participants, however, if the drug is approved after it’s trials, the cost will likely change.
Many citizens were curious if President Trump’s COVID diagnosis could promote another round of stimulus package aid for the American public. But as of Wednesday, October 7, President Trump has declined to pass another stimulus package until after the November general election. On Oct 9, the Commission on Presidential Debates cancelled the second debate after the POTUS refused to debate virtually amid concerns for his health.
President Trump has since been discharged from the facilities of Walter Reed and is now presiding at the White House, where has resumed his work. It remains to be seen if Trump has tested negative for the virus.