MSNBC medical contributor Dr. Vin Gupta said the entire trajectory of the November presidential election would be “fundamentally altered” now that President Donald Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, saying the United States was “flying blind” into uncharted territory.
In an interview with MSNBC host Brian Williams on Friday after the news of Trump’s positive test result broke, Gupta said the steps of White House senior adviser Hope Hicks needed to be traced back and examined closely in order to determine whether or not she had unwittingly spread COVID-19 throughout the president’s inner circle.
Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, and she traveled on Air Force One with the president to Cleveland for Tuesday’s presidential debate as well as a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday.
“This is bigger than just the president, the first lady, their inner circle on Air Force One — everyone of whom now must be quarantined for the requisite 14 days, regardless of what the test shows,” said Gupta, a pulmonologist who has previously criticized the Trump campaign for spreading “propaganda” about the coronavirus. “This is a high-risk exposure.”
Gupta also questioned why the president ventured to a reelection fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, just hours prior to his positive COVID-19 test result, and stressed that Trump’s age puts him at high risk.
“To me, I don’t understand that,” the doctor said. “What’s the medical advice he is getting from [Physician to the President] Dr. Conley and others? Who is encouraging him to do that? Because at that moment when Hope Hicks turns up positive and symptomatic, that should have raised alarm bells and a five-alarm fire that everybody should shelter in place until we get testing. And then, even then, we should repeat testing over a period of time.”
Further in-person gatherings prior to the election are out of the question, Gupta said, adding that if Trump ends up being asymptomatic, “he may use it to tamp down the seriousness of the infection.” (Later on Friday, reports said the president and first lady Melania Trump were both showing mild symptoms.)
“The fact that this even occurred is a damning indictment and, unfortunately, kind of a ‘We told you so’ in reality, based on their months and months of misrepresenting good public health practice,” Gupta said. “This is avoidable. This did not have to happen if they were practicing the proper procedures and not going to these rallies and having these chaotic events, where of course airborne exposure was going to happen, even if it was in an outdoor setting. No masking, no distancing — what did they expect was going to happen?”
Following Gupta’s interview, it was announced that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had tested negative for the coronavirus. On Twitter, Gupta wrote that unlike Trump, Biden “practices the right behavior publicly each time and his events follow suit.”