A month before election day, President Donald Trump is in a military hospital where he will stay for days. He is being treated for Covid-19, a disease that is particularly dangerous for people his age and weight. His doctor said Saturday morning he was fine and fever free but declined to say exactly when he was diagnosed and how long he expected to be in the hospital. When asked whether the president had ever consumed additional oxygen, he was evasive.
Minutes later, a “source familiar with the president’s health” told a White House pool reporter, “The president’s vital signs for the past 24 hours have been very worrying and the next 48 hours will be critical to his upkeep.” We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery. “
The public receives conflicting messages about the health of the Commander-in-Chief, creating speculation and confusion.
It’s not just the president who’s sick: his campaign manager, Bill Stepien; informal consultant Kellyanne Conway; Ronna McDaniel, leader of the Republican Party; and Chris Christie, who advises the president, all tested positive. The disease runs through the inner circle of the president.
The coronavirus is also penetrating the U.S. Capitol, the center of power, and the beating heart of American democracy. Three Republican senators – Mike Lee from Utah, Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, and Thom Tillis from North Carolina – tested positive. Sens. James Lankford from Oklahoma and Ben Sasse from Nebraska are being quarantined as a precaution.
Congress has failed to agree on the size and shape of a new aid package, although the economy is showing persistent signs of distress. Airlines are on the verge of laying off tens of thousands of workers, companies are closing their doors, and state and local governments are starving for cash. However, Congress may not be able to stop this. The leaders are at odds over a rescue package. Even if they come to an agreement, will the legislature be able to approve them if the legislature is sick?
The Senate will now likely take the next 16 days off in hopes of removing the virus from its ranks – but bringing the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice closer to election day.
Senators sit side by side at lunch, often lowering their masks in the Senate, and flying back and forth to the DC every week. Further infections seem inevitable.
The Capitol is filled with Republican lawmakers who refuse to wear masks, ignoring near-accepted scientific evidence that it prevents the disease from spreading. For example, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina was out on the street with no face covering on Friday speaking to a small group of people. California MP Doug LaMalfa strolled naked through the rotunda with two women earlier this week. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who had the coronavirus is not wearing a mask. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran was speaking in the Senate earlier this week without his face covered.
Across Pennsylvania Avenue, the President’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, admitted that the public should be prepared for more positive results at the White House in the coming days.
The leaders of Congress – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) And Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) – have stubbornly refused to conduct tests on members of Congress or to punish people who do not wear masks, and Left behind hundreds of lawmakers, aides, reporters, and Capitol workers vulnerable to a virus without a cure. They first said it was insensitive as the Americans couldn’t get tests. You said privately that politics was too tricky. Either way, the Capitol has the potential to be a super-spreader event every day.
Washington’s dysfunction often has little impact on the rest of the country, but this time around the real world impact is massive. Will the Senate be able to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Supreme Court in three weeks? Or will Covid-19 prevent McConnell from occupying Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat, creating the specter of a deadlocked Supreme Court following a controversial election?
In November, 470 federal elections will take place in a country where the number of deaths from coronavirus is 208,779. The president and his Republican allies have spent months suggesting that the vote be fraudulent and corrupted by its opponents. Now the likelihood is that the president and his party will have to end the election season on the sidelines.