Concern over the fate of the elections heightened after President Donald Trump was admitted to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center after falling ill with COVID-19.
Trump, 74, developed mild symptoms hours after being diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a White House pool report this morning. His symptoms include a fever and fatigue.
“Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
Due to his age and past medical history, Trump is at a higher risk for complications.
According to a Centers for Disease Control report, 65-74 year olds are 5 times more likely to be hospitalized and 90 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than 18-29 year olds.
“Following PCR-confirmation of the President’s diagnosis, as a precautionary measure he received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail,” said physician to the president Dr. Sean P. Conley.
On Sep. 29 Regeneron released a news report stating that their antibody cocktail “reduced viral load and the time to alleviate symptoms in non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19.”However, Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail is still undergoing a double-blind trial.
As to what the possibility of Trump becoming severely ill means for the upcoming election, Colin Moore, political analyst and director of UH’s Matsunaga Institute Public Policy Center, said that this happening during such a critical time is unprecedented.
When asked if Trump being administered the trial drug and being admitted to Walter Reed is out of an abundance of caution or an indication of something serious, Moore said that the admission to the hospital sounds reasonable.
“Walter Reed is the hospital that presidents often go to to receive medical care… I think this sounds reasonable to me that they admitted him to the hospital out of precaution, even with a relatively mild case of COVID,” Moore said. However, the details of why Trump was administered the trial drug is still unknown.
The first round of presidential debates took place this past Wednesday, and the future of the remaining debates depends on Trump’s health.
“It may be that they cancel one and keep the third… I don’t know how this is going to play out and I think a lot of it will remain on his health. I think if he is fine and can remain isolated, I think this will be a relatively easy problem to solve,” Moore said.
The political implications of Trump being in the hospital could work in favor of or against his campaign.
“Does he get more support from those who are sympathetic? Does this undermine his campaign because he can’t go out and do much campaigning? Nobody knows the answer to these questions,” Moore said.
The transfer of power from a president to their vice president would only happen if the president is gravely ill and Moore pointed out that, “Being ill is not enough.” However, there is a clear constitutional procedure for a transfer of power if that should happen.
“Unless the president becomes immediately incapacitated, it’s usually a voluntary decision from the president,” Moore said.
Until more detailed reports on Trump’s health are released, the future of the presidential debates and elections remains unknown.
“Like many things that has happened in 2020, we have no experience to draw,” Moore said.