Added to the list of things causing chaos on Capitol Hill, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have reported as both testing positive for Coronavirus on the night of October 1st. Released in a tweet posted around 1 a.m., Trump claimed he and his wife have begun the quarantine process, resulting in the postponement of campaign events just 32 days before the election. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows disclosed that the president is experiencing “mild symptoms”, a later memo from Trump’s physician Sean Conley stating the president would “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
The news of Trump’s diagnosis has initiated a scramble to uncover more potential cases throughout the U.S. government, especially as the positive test of top White House aide Hope Hicks was revealed hours earlier. However, the process of contact tracing has reaped no other positive results and notably confirmed presidential Joe Biden as testing negative.
Though the possibility of delaying the presidential election has been considered, it is unlikely due to the millions of ballots that have already been submitted. If the president were to take a turn for the worst, law professor Rick Hasen claims “it seems impossible…to come up with a new name to replace a name on the ballot without starting the whole election process over, which is not possible 30+ days before election,” in a blog post published on Thursday.
As for the current executive duties, if Trump were to become in impaired in his ability to attend to them, the event could trigger the 25th amendment of the Constitution in which the vice president would become “acting president” until the president recovers.
Whatever the outcome, a research note by John Hudak published earlier in the year laid out what would be necessary for the president in the case of contracting COVID-19, specifically that he is “to continue to communicate with the American public.” a deputy director at the Brooking Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management, Hudak suggests that “seeing the president on camera can restore faith in his wellness…stabilize stock markets and project to the world that the president remains well enough to execute the office.”