By Fiona Lin | October 20, 2020
Early on October 2, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump revealed that they have tested positive for Covid-19, just hours after Trump insisted that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.” In addition, at least 25 people in Trump’s orbit have tested positive, with the last being his son, Barron Trump. As the presidential election is less than 2 weeks away, the diagnosis has raised questions about what happens if a candidate dies or becomes incapacitated.
What if Trump passes away or cannot serve?
The 25th amendment of the U.S. Constitution states :“In case of the removal of the President from office or of the death or resignation, the vice president shall become president.” In this case, the responsibilities of Trump would automatically fall to Mike Pence.
If the vice president is also deceased or incapable of serving, The Constitution leaves it to the discretion of the Congress. There are several established laws to facilitate this process: The Presidential Succession Act enacted in 1947 ensures that the Speaker of the House is next in line, followed by the president pro tempore of the Senate and cabinet members. As of now, Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have both tested negative for the virus. Pelosi articulated on MSNBC that “[The] “continuity of government is always in place.”
What if President Trump is incapable of running as the presidential candidate?
If the president is incapable of running as the Republican candidate, the Republican National Committee is expected to nominate a new candidate with Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and 168 others. There is, however, a major problem with this: many states have already begun the printing, mailing and accepting of ballots.
What is Trump’s current Covid-19 status?
A memo from the President's doctor released on Saturday, October 11, revealed that Mr. Trump was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” and he plans to resume his campaign events in the upcoming week.
Experts continue to express skepticism towards Trump’s diagnostic tests and question the true severity of his illness. Guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) states that individuals with severe Covid-19 may need to self-isolate for up to 20 days. Though Trump informed his supporters from the White House balcony on Saturday, October 11, “I’m feeling great!”, according to a recent article published by the New York Times, “The president’s health could still deteriorate in the next few days.”
Dr Krutika Kuppalim, an infectious disease physician from South Carolina speculates, “I don’t think he’s out of the woods for certain. I would still be careful with someone like him.”Considering the president's age and weight, he is at higher risk for relapse.
As of now, Trump’s recovery continues to remain ambiguous; everything is quite uncertain to the public. The only thing definite about Trump’s Covid-19 care is that most Americans’ experiences with this virus looks nothing like his. President Trump was immediately given access to first-class treatment with aid from experts in the field, as well as unreleased antiviral experimental drugs and therapies that are currently unavailable to the public, while millions of Americans struggle to acquire basic medical care.