With Election Day right around the corner, President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis on Oct. 2 added more uncertainty to an already turbulent election season. Now, the president is returning to the campaign trail, against the advice of medical experts.
Trump’s hurried return to campaigning comes as many criticize the president for downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic that has now killed more than 210,000 Americans and infected upwards of 7.7 million across the country, according to The New York Times.
The Trump campaign announced that the president will be speaking at a “Make America Great Again” event at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida on Monday.
Experts have expressed concern about the impact of an early return to campaigning on the president’s health. Trump seems to be recovering and tweeted on Oct. 6 that he was “FEELING GREAT!”
However, his condition could still deteriorate, as “COVID-19 patients can take turns for the worse during the second week of illness,” according to The Times.
In addition to the risks posed to the president himself, prematurely holding in-person events could jeopardize the health of those in attendance.
The aggressive course of treatment Trump received, including the drug dexamethasone, which is typically used for COVID-19 patients in critical condition, has led medical experts to believe his case was severe.
According to CDC guidelines, “Recovery of replication-competent virus between 10 and 20 days after symptom onset has been documented in some persons with severe COVID-19.”
As Trump was diagnosed with the virus on Oct. 2, the rally planned for Oct. 12 falls within the time frame during which the president could be contagious and transmit the virus to others.
Those who attend the Orlando event will be asked to sign a disclaimer stating that “you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19,” The New York Times reported.
“I wouldn’t show up unless you had a mask and were distanced,” Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden said of the upcoming rally, The Times reported.
Biden has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s fumbled response to the coronavirus pandemic, and, unlike the president, has adhered to CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing while attending public events.
While the president’s campaign events have resumed despite his diagnosis, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) cancelled the second presidential debate, which was scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15. Initially, the debate was modified to be a virtual event after Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
The Trump campaign protested the change of format, claiming it would give Biden an unfair advantage and denying the health risks involved in the president’s in-person participation. Bill Stepien, the manager of the Trump campaign, released a statement insisting that there was “no medical reason why the Commission on Presidential Debates should shift the debate to a virtual setting.”
The CPD rejected the Trump campaign’s attempt to clear the president for participation in an in-person debate, “Noting that the White House still has not provided basic information about the president’s recent coronavirus tests,” Politico’s Quint Forgey reported.
On Friday, the commission released a statement announcing, “There will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22.”