The overnight revelation that President Donald J. Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, and the subsequent news that the president would be hospitalized, came as a shock to the country — exacerbated by the looming election, which is only 32 days away.
Local leaders in Tompkins County generally wished them a speedy and healthy recovery.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 wished both the president and the first lady a “full and speedy recovery” via Twitter just hours after the news broke but felt concerned for the nation given the high degree of contempt senior White House officials expressed toward wearing masks.
Wishing them both a full and speedy recovery.
Concerned for the country – particularly because “the infection may have spread among senior White House officials, who generally do not wear masks in deference to the president’s disdain for them.”https://t.co/pXgAM2n7q0
— Mayor Svante Myrick (@SvanteMyrick) October 2, 2020
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reported that the president had mild symptoms and found himself in “good spirits,” but a few hours later, Trump — who is 74 years old — was taken to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The news of his diagnosis sent shock waves throughout a nation struggling to contain the virus’s spread.
The president consistently demonstrated a lax attitude towards the pandemic — which has already killed over 200,000 Americans — and often sent mixed messages regarding the protocols for wearing masks, following social distancing guidelines and playing down the severity of the pandemic, all of which are sure to make his diagnosis a public relations fiasco for his campaign.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) wished the president and first lady a speedy recovery in a statement. He then called for the use of “common sense, smarts, and medical best practices to mitigate its [the virus’s] risks.”
Reed is currently pursuing re-election for New York’s 23rd Congressional district against Democratic candidate Tracy Mitrano J.D. ’95, who similarly wished the president and first lady a “speedy recovery for both their health and the security of the nation,” in a statement on Friday.
Mitrano urged the public to follow the safety guidelines and best practices issued by public health officers and reiterated that nobody is immune to the virus.
Trump’s positive diagnosis comes days after a tumultuous first presidential debate against former Vice President Joe Biden. After the debate, campus political leaders lamented at the lack of civil discourse.
His diagnosis also puts the second presidential debate in jeopardy, scheduled for Oct. 15 and is just 13 days away — only a day short of the traditionally required 14-day quarantine. The Commission on Presidential Debates has yet to comment on Trump’s diagnosis.
According to Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who moderated the first debate, Trump’s family members and his close aides chose to ignore the Cleveland Clinic’s face mask requirement at the debate.
An observation from inside the debate hall: Everyone in Biden’s side of the hall is wearing a mask. More than half on Trump’s side, including his four children, are not wearing masks. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s a requirement that all guests wear masks.
— Tyler Pager (@tylerpager) September 30, 2020
Cornell declined to comment on the president’s diagnosis.
In a statement, the Cornell Democrats wished the president and first lady swift recovery, but said that the news did not come as a shock.
“We are not surprised to hear about President Trump’s positive COVID diagnosis given his repeated comments disparaging mask-wearing and his failure to implement any type of national strategy to address the virus,” Geneva Saupe ’21, the club’s political director, wrote in an email to The Sun. “We believe this once again demonstrates the importance of electing Joe Biden in November.”
The Cornell Republicans did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
The Trump campaign did not inform the Biden campaign of their possible exposure to the virus prior to the debate, CNN reported. Vice President Mike Pence, Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) have all tested negative as of Friday morning.
Update, Oct. 2, 6 p.m.: This article was updated to include the latest news that Trump had been admitted to Walter Reed Military Medical Center following his COVID-19 diagnosis.