As Donald Trump continues to make coronavirus themed trips to battleground states health experts are expressing their concerns that Trump’s visits could put the community’s he visits at risk during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The experts state that even the precautions that the White House has undertaken are not even close enough to eliminate the risks of exposure during the trips. Trump’s visits place huge burdens on the local governments far too many of which are already stretched far too thin because of the health pandemic.
“The White House is a potential hot zone for COVID — aides and valets close to the president are diagnosing positive,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert.
“If I’m a factory owner, do I really want a large group of visitors from the West Wing visiting me now under these circumstances, just to snap a few pictures? No,” Gupta said.
Gupta then went on to urge Trump to “lead by example” by limiting his nonessential travel.
Because of Trump’s visits the workers are made to take rapid coronavirus tests. It is now White House protocol to test anyone who has close contact with Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
The issue with rapid tests is that the Abbott Labs ID NOW testing system that the White House currently uses for rapid results does not always deliver accurate results, the Food and Drug Administration recently warned. The FDA added that even if the rapid results are accurate the window of time between infection and the positive test result remains unknown.
Trump continues to ignore his own White House recommendations to wear a mask.
Experts state that any trip Trump takes outside of Washington and involves hundreds of traveling advisers, security staff members, logistical experts, and journalists. All of those individuals stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants.
“Any presidential visit outside of Washington, D.C. is a heavy lift in terms of personnel and resources,” Greg Jenkins, the former deputy assistant to the president and director of White House advance operations during President George W. Bush’s administration, wrote in an email.
“It’s almost impossible to think through how to do this. You’ve got to consider every potential infringement of social distancing and mitigate that,” Jenkins added.
Johanna Maska, former President Obama’s director of press recently stated that she viewed Trump’s recent travels as “extraordinarily risky.”
“Every time they put him on the road, they’re sending people from Washington, D.C., a place that’s not experiencing a decrease [in coronavirus cases] yet,” Maska said.
The extra expenses a local community takes on because of a Trump visit could easily sink the economy because of the strain already on it due to the pandemic.
“There’s massive debates between the Secret Service and the local police on what they will pay for. The Secret Service will pay for things to protect the president, but, for example, if it has to do with protesters — [of] which there are a lot — that is not a cost that the Secret Service would be willing to assume,” Maska said, adding that “there are long fights in any administration between the Secret Service and the local community.”
“The impact is real and costly. This is one of the chief reasons Presidents consider the timing of a visit to a disaster area as security and other resources will almost certainly need to be siphoned away from disaster work to support the visit. Airports, roads, and event sites all require local resources,” Jenkins adds.
Despite the growing warnings from health experts the White House has said that for now, the trips will continue.
“It’s important to remind Americans what’s being done. Individuals, how much they stepped up, the way manufacturers have been able to repurpose what they do,” Kellyanne Conway said last week. “Yes, he will continue to do that.”