News of President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign manager tests positive for COVID-19 Trump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection ICE launching billboard campaign highlighting ‘at-large immigration violators’ MORE and the first lady contracting COVID-19 has rocked the political world. He tweeted early Friday morning, “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Since his announcement has been much speculation surrounding how the disease will affect him and health care experts, including myself, think the president’s case can be a teachable moment.
As a physician who has repeatedly witnessed the suffering caused by this disease, I am particularly concerned about the president’s health. Even without knowing details of his medical history, it’s clear his age and obesity place him at high risk for severe illness or even death.
I wish him and his wife a speedy recovery, and I hope that the cluster of cases at the White House remains small.
To some, the president’s infection was unexpected, but many in the medical community are much less surprised. COVID can be spread even with asymptomatic people, making it extremely dangerous.
Despite the White House’s frequent testing, there were missed opportunities to reduce the risk of transmission of this particular outbreak. Large rallies and events with minimal social distancing, as well as a reluctance to wear a mask, will put even the leader of the free world at grave risk.
This news is a grim reminder that a viral threat anywhere is a viral threat everywhere. No one is truly safe. And contrary to anyone’s opinion, COVID-19 is not going to disappear anytime soon. In fact, some experts predict that the virus is going to get worse in the colder months before it gets better.
The good news is that there are steps each of us can take to stop this virus. Masks prevent people from COVID-19, including asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, from spreading the disease to others.
Evidence suggests that widespread mask-wearing could reduce COVID-19 deaths by 50 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said, “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control.” Social distancing reduces transmission within and between groups by limiting routes of potential exposure; mathematical models indicate that these efforts can dramatically “flatten the curve.” Influenza vaccination prevents catching and dying of the flu. Still, due to increased health precautions, there will probably be a decline in cases, alleviating some of the health system’s strain.
This virus does not respect partisan boundaries. More than ever, we need to be united in our response. There is nothing liberal or conservative about the following science and acting to limit the transmission of a…