The news that US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania had tested positive for Covid-19 came as a bombshell to the world. While Trump is not the first world leader to have contracted the virus – the UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro being two other examples – there is still a sense of shock when a person of such importance is diagnosed with the virus.
According to reports, both Trump and his wife are in good health now, although the President was said to have required oxygen at one point before being taken to hospital where he has since recovered. For Trump, aside from the negative health effects of having had the virus, the positive test could not have come at a worse time, with just weeks remaining until the US presidential election. Trump has already slipped behind Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the Betfair odds on the next US President, and he’ll be annoyed that his campaign is going to be hampered.
There are a number of effects that this news will have on the election, and we’ve put together a quick list of three of the biggest.
The first and most obvious impact of Trump’s positive coronavirus test is how it will affect the President’s health. At 74 years of age, Trump is considered to be in the at-risk category, and while he is said to be on the road to recovery, if the illness was to continue to hamper his health, it could have a significant impact on Trump’s ability to hold office.
We saw in the UK how the coronavirus levelled Boris Johnson, with the prime minister eventually admitted to the intensive care unit, requiring oxygen on a frequent basis. If Trump does not take the time to recover fully, and if he lets work get in the way of the rest he needs, it could damage his ability to lead, and certainly damage his ability to contest a close-fought election.
Ability to campaign
Another significant impact the positive test will have is on Trump’s ability to campaign in the weeks leading up to the election. With the President’s stock having fallen in the months since the coronavirus pandemic took hold, he would have been looking to the campaign trail as a means by which he could regain the support that he had lost.
Now though, it’s uncertain how much time and effort Trump will be able to commit to campaigning. It may be that he and his staff will need to get creative in their efforts to garner support among voters, and this could make all the difference in what promises to be an extremely close election.
Effect on his policy
Finally, perhaps the most damaging effect of all this is that Trump’s positive test result and illness flies in the face of the very cavalier attitude he has taken in terms of the pandemic. The President is very much an advocate of opening up the economy and getting America back to some degree of normality as soon as possible.
He has frequently downplayed the significance of the virus, and has reportedly been lax in his social distancing measures with his aides and advisers. Indeed, it was from one of his closest aides that Trump reportedly caught the virus. It will be interesting to see whether having the virus will alter Trump’s opinion on the pandemic as a whole, and whether it will affect his policy. Either way, the whole situation has added an interesting element to this vital presidential election campaign.