President Trump's demand for in-person debate wasn't unreasonable, doctor explains
After testing positive for Covid-19 last weekend and being hospitalized, President Trump called for a personal debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday, October 15, after the president's doctor saw him on Saturday, October 10th October, opened for public events.
"There is therefore no medical reason why the Presidential Debate Commission should move the debate to a virtual environment, postpone it or change it in any other way," Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.
The Presidential Debate Commission had cautiously changed the Miami debate from personal to virtual, but the Trump campaign declined to accept the new format despite the fact that the president was still potentially contagious on Thursday, October 9. (The debate was canceled.)
In any case, according to Dr. Roger Klein, a former advisor to the FDA and the CDC, is a good argument for being able to debate in person.
"I believe the face-to-face debate can be conducted safely as any concerns about distant risks could be resolved by taking precautions in transmission such as implementing clearances with or without physical partitions and wearing medical masks during transportation," Klein told Yahoo Finance. "Most likely, the final steps would not even be necessary."
US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden await the audience at the end of the first presidential debate on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images)
"It is likely that a patient described in this way is no longer contagious."
Exactly when Trump first became infected with the virus and showed symptoms is unclear, although reports suggest that the president started showing symptoms from October 1. At the same time, details of Trump's care have remained spotty and it is unclear how bad his COVID-19 case was.
The president was hospitalized on October 2 after his symptoms worsened. He received supplemental oxygen and treatments such as the antiviral drug remdesivir, the corticosteroid dexamethasone, and an antibody therapy cocktail. Trump left the hospital on October 5 and returned to the White House, where medical care is available 24/7, although he is still disabled and contagious at the time. The president's stamina appeared to improve as the week wore on, leading to the president's doctor and U.S. Navy commander Sean Connelly clearing the way for Trump to return to public events.
Klein noted that if symptoms actually subsided, "the individual is unlikely to be contagious 10 to 14 days after the onset of the disease." And while Klein emphasized that he could not speak definitively because he had not treated the president himself, the former CDC adviser added: "Generally speaking, it is likely that a patient described in this way is no longer contagious."
President Trump takes off his protective face mask as he poses on the White House balcony after returning from Walter Reed Medical Center for coronavirus treatment on October 5, 2020. REUTERS / Erin Scott
"We had a super spreader event at the White House"
While President Trump could theoretically have safely discussed Biden on October 15, the events of the past few weeks revealed alarmingly unsafe behavior on the part of the President and those around him.
Several infections in Trump's circle appear to stem from the ceremony at which Judge Amy Coney Barrett was announced as a candidate for the Supreme Court on September 26 at the White House.
Since then, there have been at least 36 confirmed cases at the White House, including First Lady Melania Trump, Senior Counselor Hope Hicks, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Advisor Stephen Miller and Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and three members of the press.
The White House outbreak is related to the announcement of Coney Barrett as a candidate for the Supreme Court. (Graphic: David Foster / Yahoo Finance)
The vast majority of attendees at the September 26 event did not wear masks or practice social distancing despite public health guidance. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, described the White House outbreak as "preventable".
"We had a super-spreader event at the White House," Fauci told CBS News, "and it was in a situation where people were huddled together and not wearing masks."
Three days later, at the first presidential debate, all members of Trump's family, with the exception of the first lady, decided not to wear masks upon arrival and were not tested. Biden and his team were tested for the Covid-19 and all came back negative.
Plexiglass partitions were installed for the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday evening, although Pence and his team initially objected.
Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and public health editor for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.
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