BETHESDA, Md. – President Donald Trump is heading to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following a positive coronavirus test , according to White House pool reports.
“President Trump remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day. Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
On Friday afternoon, Dr. Sean P. Conley, the physician to the president, said ” the President remains fatigued but in good spirits .
President Trump received a received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail , Dr. Conley said “as a precaution measure.”
While the severity of Trump’s symptoms remain unknown, the positive test raises questions about what would happen if he were to become incapacitated due to the virus.
John Hudak, a senior fellow and deputy director at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management, outlined some of the scenarios designed to protect the continuity of government in the event of a positive COVID-19 test in a research note published in July.
“In an unfortunate scenario in which the president were to contract COVID-19 and need therapies such as a ventilator and/or the use of other therapies that would impair his cognitive abilities and/or abilities to communicate, there are a few procedures in place to deal with that situation,” Hudak said. For transparency, the Brookings Institute is a public policy nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.
Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Grassley (who is president pro tempore, third in line for the presidency), and members of the cabinet would all need to be isolated from the president, said Hudak.
Pence’s press secretary confirmed Friday morning that the vice president and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative for the virus.
If Trump’s treatment were to impair his ability to perform his duties, the president could invoke Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
This would allow the vice president to become “acting president” until the president notifies the House and Senate that he is able to perform his duties once again.
President Ronald Reagan invoked Section 3 in 1985 and President George W. Bush did so twice in 2002 and 2007, all for medical procedures.
If Trump were to decline rapidly, ruling out the possibility of invoking Section 3, Hudak said Section 4 of the 25th Amendment would provide a solution to such a crisis.
In that scenario, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet would send notice to the House and Senate “that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” This would also see the vice president assume the role of acting president until the president recovers.
“While presidential incapacity would be a serious national situation, the government would be able to function in a largely uninterrupted way until the president is recovered,” Hudak said.