After testing positive for COVID-19 last week, President Trump was hospitalized on October 2. However, that didn’t stop Trump from organizing a motorcade to wave to his fans outside of the hospital – potentially putting others at risk.
On October 4, just two days after the president was hospitalized, Trump requested a motorcade to drive from the supporters who had gathered at the hospital. Then, according to a video from CNN, he was seen in a car waving to fans along with two Secret Service agents. All three people in the car wore masks. But because Trump tested positive for COVID-19, the others in the car were exposed and could become infected with the virus.
Experts were quick to criticize Trump̵
We know that the coronavirus is most likely to spread when people spend extended periods of time indoors, such as in a car with the windows closed. That’s because the coronavirus mainly spreads through respiratory droplets that spread when someone with COVID-19 coughs, speaks, screams, or sneezes, SELF previously explained. If these droplets end up in another person’s nose, mouth, or eyes, that person can become infected. In such high risk situations, there is also the possibility that the coronavirus could spread via smaller aerosolized particles that may remain in the air for a short time.
“The Risk of COVID19 Transmission Inside [the car] is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is amazing. My thoughts are forced to gamble with the Secret Service, “wrote Dr. Phillips on Twitter.” I feel sick for these agents, “added Dr. Esther Choo, professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.
Other medical experts were similarly concerned and angry. “Shortly after saying I learned a lot about COVID, the president is taking a ride in an enclosed space with people believed to be # COVID19 negative while taking experimental drugs,” said Dr. Craig Spencer, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Population and Family Health at Columbia University Medical Center, wrote on Twitter. “Why does the US have more # COVID19 cases and deaths than any other country in the world? Because the people who signed this are the exact same people who are leading our pandemic response,” he continued.
“POTUS endangers the health of others. Its MO throughout this pandemic,” wrote Dr. Celine Gounder, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, on Twitter.
The stunt undoubtedly had ramifications for those in the car with Trump. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend. The CDC defines “close contact” as being at least 15 minutes away from someone with COVID-19. While we don’t know exactly how long these three people were in the car together, it’s likely that those who accompanied Trump on his motorcade had to be quarantined after the ride.
And those who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 (including the president) are advised to remain in isolation from others – unless they are receiving medical attention – until they are no longer contagious. When someone is hospitalized with COVID-19, the CDC recommends not moving the patient as far as possible by doing certain procedures and tests in their room, such as using portable X-ray machines when necessary. The CDC does not have specific guidelines for conducting a presidential motorcade, but based on these recommendations, it certainly does not seem advisable.