Well folks, it happened. President Donald Trump has COVID-19. On October 2, the POTUS made the announcement on Twitter, writing: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
And let’s be honest, are any of us *really* surprised? While it’s no doubt a scary time and the president’s diagnosis should not be taken lightly, it was only a matter of time before the leader of the free world had a COVID scare, considering Trump has continued to shake hands throughout the pandemic, host rallies with mask-less supporters and one of his aides, Hope Hicks, just announced she’d tested positive for the virus. But, despite the president himself announcing that he and the First Lady have tested positive, some people are skeptical that Trump’s diagnosis is even real, with some theorizing that Trump is “faking” his diagnosis in order to impact the presidential campaign (we are, after all, only about a month out from the November 3 election). But why would Trump ever fake a positive COVID diagnosis? Here’s everything we know about Trump’s test results and the theories around them.
OK, so why do people think Donald Trump doesn’t *actually* have COVID-19?
Shortly after Trump announced that he and his wife Melania Trump had tested positive, the internet went into overdrive sharing what they love best—conspiracy theories. Paramount among them is the theory that Trump doesn’t *actually* have the virus, but rather is faking it. But why in the heck would he even do that? According to some on the internet, they think it’s in order to save face and get out of future presidential debates (or at least be able to do them virtually) after the chaotic mess that was the first one. As Twitter user @lsarsour tweeted: “Seems like someone don’t wanna go back to the debate stage.”
Seems like someone don’t wanna go back to the debate stage. 🤔🤔
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) October 2, 2020
(FYI, for anyone who watched the first (honestly terrifying) debate on September 29, this theory might make sense.)
Others surmised that perhaps Trump—who has taken a decidedly light stance on the severity of COVID—may be actually *saying* he has COVID, only so that he can come out the other end easily and unscathed, lending to his theory that the virus isn’t as bad as people are making it out to be.
But see, it provides a desperately needed, *complete* change of conversation for two or three weeks. At which time, Trump can emerge hale and hearty and say that Covid barely laid a glove on him.
— Catherine Kenyon (@ck14340) October 2, 2020
It’s important to note that these are all theories, and as far as anyone knows, Trump has tested positive for COVID-19.
And how is QAnon related to Trump’s COVID diagnosis?
Because Trump’s announcement and the aforementioned conspiracy theories re circulating on the internet, it was only a matter of time before QAnon threw their own hat—and theories—into the ring. ICYMI, QAnon is an online conspiracy group that has *alleged* everything from Chrissy Teigen and John Legend being pedophiles (an unsubstantiated claim), to Wayfair trafficking children via their home goods (also unsubstantiated), to the coronavirus being a fake pandemic orchestrated to deflect attention away from satanic pedophile rings or created by Bill Gates so that he can secretly embed microchips through vaccine shots (also unsubstantiated).
Despite its followers alleging that COVID is fake, as soon as news of the president’s positive results emerged, QAnon quickly flipped their script, theorizing that Trump does in fact have COVID-19, but claiming that he got it on purpose. And again, we have to ask, why in the heck would anyone do that? According to QAnon, it comes back to one very famous person: Hillary Clinton. As summarized in an October 2 article by Vice, followers of QAnon believe that President Trump contracted COVID in order to arrest former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Confused? So are we. According to Vice: “Trump knows COVID is fake, so his admission that he is infected is actually a power move on the deep state, who think COVID is real because they created it as a power move on Trump. Which all means that Hillary Clinton is getting arrested.”
One user pointed to what they say is a hidden message in Trump’s tweet, saying that the word TOGETHER is actually a reference to Clinton—To Get Her. Another posited that the president has to self-isolate before Clinton’s imminent arrest for optics—getting COVID right now makes that an easy task.
Clinton has long been a target of Trump’s, with the Justice Department launching an inquiry into Clinton in 2017, prompted by the president. Said inquiry was into concerns that the FBI hadn’t fully pursued cases related to the Clinton Foundation, as well as concerns around Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. As Vanity Fair reported in January 2020, this investigation yielded nothing.
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So, what’s going to happen with the 2020 presidential election?
Regardless of what people on the internet may think to be true, one thing is certain: the rest of the election, and the president’s plans to hit the campaign trail, *will* change. Per CNBC, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said the White House team would maintain a “vigilant watch” on the POTUS and First Lady, but expected that Trump will be able to maintain his duties safely. The big change-up will be with those around him. In a research note published earlier this year, John Hudak, a senior fellow and deputy director at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management, outlined scenarios and precautions to protect the president should he contract COVID-19. Hudak noted that challenges would come in regards to those around Trump, like his 24-hour Secret Service protection. “The need for 24-hour Secret Service protection could put agents at risk for contracting it. But given modern technology, the president could quarantine and have remote or sufficiently distanced contact from most, if not all, aides, including the individual(s) who would be involved in the presidential daily brief,” Hudak said. As well, per CNBC, those in “line of succession” to the president, like Vice President Mike Pence, will most likely now have limited contact with him.
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And as for the election? In an blog post posted October 1, Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California said he found it “hard to believe” that Congress would pass a bill to delay the presidential election due to Trump’s diagnoses. Hasen did concede it was a possibility that a bill may be passed to postpone the election if one of the presidential candidates became incapacitated.
So for now, the election will carry on.