Trump Positive Covid Test Upends Key Reelection Arguments Shortly Before Election

Topline

President Trump has hinged his reelection argument on the notion that the pandemic is in its final stages and that the U.S. is enjoying a rapid economic recovery with record stock prices, but his positive coronavirus test appeared to hinder both those claims.

Key Facts

Trump announced Friday morning he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus following a trip to Minnesota on Wednesday during which Trump came into contact with Hope Hicks, who also tested positive.

The development came just hours after Trump said in remarks to the Al Smith Dinner on Thursday that “the end of the pandemic is in sight,” and predicted 2021 would be “one of the greatest years in the history of our country.”

Trump’s own public health experts contended with his optimistic timeline for the virus, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, predicting in September that the country would not return to normal until Spring 2021.

But Trump has also frequently touted both the strength of the pre-virus economy and claimed a soaring recovery, claiming in a Fox News interview on Sunday the recovery is “v-shaped,” adding “we’re setting records on employment” and “look how high the stock market is.”

But Trump’s positive test sent U.S. stock futures into a tailspin, with Dow futures indicating an opening loss of 300 points and S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also in “negative territory,” CNBC reported.

Trump has also dismissed various coronavirus mitigation tools, mocking former Vice President Joe Biden at their first debate on Tuesday for wearing masks and frequently slamming Democratic governors for continued stay-at-home measures.

Crucial Quote

Trump’s apparently haphazard view of coronavirus precautions proved potentially deadly, casting his disdain for masks, social distancing and other mitigation measures in a new light. “Mr. Trump, for his part, has been fatalistic when talking with associates about whether he or others would get sick, describing the possibility as a roll of the dice,” wrote New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, who noted his week featured “a series of events in which he played down the virus in front of crowds large and small, all without wearing a mask.”

Chief Critic

“Politically, the huge question for Trump in the final 5 weeks was if he could get the focus to be about anything but his botched management of the pandemic, & try to define Biden differently,” tweeted Atlantic reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere. “Now he is himself Exhibit A in his management of the pandemic, and it is defining him.”

What To Watch For

While the stock market collapse may be temporary, the chaos that evoked it is likely only just beginning as questions swirl about the possible crises that could emerge from Trump developing a serious case. At 74-years-old and straddling the line of obesity, Trump falls well within the high-risk category for the virus, and the question of what would happen if he were hospitalized is highly tenuous.

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