Friday, October 2, 2020

Trump contracts the coronavirus as fear of a White House outbreak rises

Note: This is a breaking story with updates to follow.

This reporting about Trump, the first Lady, and others testing positive for the coronavirus is by Teresa Hanafin, Globe Staff in her “Fast Forward”.

It’s a long one but if you read it now, you will not be surprised later.

Confirmed US cases: 7,292,422< br> Confirmed US deaths: 208,068

Another 847 Americans died from COVID–19 yesterday, and 46,459 more were infected (that we know of), according to The New York Times COVID–19 map and case count. The Times reports that over the past week, there has been an average of 43,439 new cases per day, which is an increase of 8 percent from the average two weeks ago.

Cases are on the rise in 29 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Deaths have increased in 11 states and Guam.

So Trump caught the coronavirus and we’re not the least bit surprised, given his shocking refusal to adhere to health guidelines, his mocking of those who wear masks (including ridiculing Joe Biden during the debate), and the lack of thorough infection protocols in the White House and throughout the administration.

Here’s what we know:

Breaking: CNN just reported that a journalist who works at the White House and a staffer who sits in the media area have tested positive for the coronavirus. Neither have been identified. Is there an outbreak emerging at the White House?

More breaking: The Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, has tested positive for the coronavirus – four days after he apologized to the university community for not wearing a mask at the White House event last Saturday at which Trump announced his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for a seat on the Supreme Court.

A timeline:

Hope Hicks, Trump’s close aide, traveled with Trump and other staffers on board the Marine One helicopter and then on Air Force One to Trump’s rally in Duluth Wednesday night.

She started experiencing symptoms at the rally.

She flew back to D.C. on Air Force One, but was quarantined on board – no details on what that means – and disembarked from the rear entrance.

Hicks’ positive diagnosis was confirmed on Thursday.

The White House did not notify any of the reporters who traveled on Air Force One to and from the Minnesota rally that someone who was on the plane had tested positive for COVID–19.

In fact, they made no public announcement at all; the story of Hicks’ infection leaked to Bloomberg News on Thursday.

Aides to Trump who had been in close contact with Hicks talked with reporters on the plane on both flights. None of them wore masks. All the reporters wear masks.

Nobody knows when Trump got infected. Aides say he appeared to be feeling poorly on Wednesday and seemed exhausted Wednesday night. He spoke at the rally for half the time of his usual rallies, and uncharacteristically fell asleep on Air Force One on the flight back.

He was lethargic and hoarse during a big-money fund-raiser he attended at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday afternoon, where he mingled with supporters and posed for photos, exposing about 100 people.

Hicks had tested positive before the event occurred, and Trump and his aides were notified as they all boarded Marine One for the flight to New Jersey. In fact, some aides who had been in close contact with Hicks, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, left the helicopter and did not make the trip.

Yet the event went on. Now all of those donors have to quarantine, and it’s likely some of them will have caught the virus from Trump.

Trump and Melania both tested positive Thursday night, and Trump tweeted the news around 1 a.m. this morning. Their son Barron, 14, tested negative.

Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said today that Trump and Melania are both having mild symptoms, but he refused to say what they are. The New York Times reported that Trump’s symptoms are “cold-like.”

Doctors and scientists say that the incubation period for the virus, from the time of exposure until the first appearance of symptoms, is 2 to 14 days, with the average length of time 5 to 7 days.

That means that if Trump’s tiredness on Wednesday was his first symptom, he could have been infected up to two weeks earlier than that. Same with Hicks.

The presidential debate was Tuesday night at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and the rules inside the hall required everyone in the audience to wear masks. Even though Trump’s family wore masks outside the hall, once they got inside, they took them off.

The Trump entourage included Melania, four of Trump’s children – Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and Tiffany – the spouses of the older three, and aides, including Hicks. A doctor from the Cleveland Clinic, a co-host of the event, approached them and asked them to put on masks, even offering them face coverings if they didn’t have any.

They all refused.

More than half of the supporters sitting on Trump’s side of the room also flouted the mask requirement. Everyone on Biden’s side of the hall wore masks.

Even though they all were in the debate hall together Tuesday night, Trump and his aides failed to notify Biden or any of his aides that Hicks had tested positive on Thursday and that Trump was experiencing symptoms, infuriating Biden campaign officials.

Biden had to find out from news reports.

Joe and Jill Biden tested negative for the virus this morning. VP Mike Pence and his wife Karen also have tested negative.

Even though Trump’s symptoms reportedly are mild now, experts say it can take a week or more for someone to develop severe illness.

Let’s be clear: Most people who get the coronavirus recover just fine, although many do have lingering symptoms, some of which are debilitating.

However, Trump is in the high-risk category for serious illness for several reasons: He’s 74, he’s male, he’s obese, and he has heart disease.

The odds that someone will develop a severe case of the disease – meaning admitted to the hospital, maybe the ICU, getting breathing assistance of some sort – increases with age.

If you are aged 65 to 74, you are five times more likely to be admitted to the hospital than those who are 18 to 29 years old – and a whopping 90 times more likely to die, according to the CDC.

If you’re in your 70s but in good health, the odds that the virus will kill you is about 10 percent. But if you have other risk factors (like obesity and heart disease), the odds that you will die goes up to 32 percent.

There’s another X factor here: Remember that Trump was hurried to Walter Reed Hospital unexpectedly on a Saturday afternoon last November, a trip that was unannounced.

Another unusual element of the trip was that his White House doctor, Dr. Sean Conley, traveled in the same vehicle with him, when protocols call for medical personnel and first responders to travel in separate vehicles. (So if something happens to the president’s vehicle and he is injured, medical personnel on the same trip are not also injured, preventing them from treating the president. As a previous White House doctor said, “You can’t treat the president if you are dead.”)

Scriber: The only reason I can think of for the WH doctor to break protocol and ride with Trump is a concern that Trump might have needed immediate care on the way to Walter Reed.

The White House claimed that Trump had some time on his hands and decided to have some elements of his annual checkup done, which nobody believed.

If Trump’s trip was because of a medical condition that he’s hiding from the public, he could be at even higher risk for serious complications from the virus.

Meanwhile, White House aides are nervous about the infections, although reporters who work in the building say they still are seeing employees walking around and meeting without masks.

Cabinet members who have been tested today, such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are negative. But doctors caution that an infected person may not get a positive test immediately, and that a test 5 to 7 days from now will be more accurate. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah has tested positive. He was at the White House last Saturday when Trump nominated Barrett for a seat on the Supreme Court, and he met with Barrett in his Senate office Tuesday. (She tested negative today; turns out she’s already had the virus and recovered.)

Is that going to turn out to be a superspreader event?

Ronna Romney McDaniels, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, tested positive on Wednesday. Her last contact with Trump was last Friday.

If you want to follow the progress of Trump’s condition, here are some good live updates for you:

The Boston Globe

The New York Times

The Washington Post

CNN

Politico

USA Today

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