Two More Test Positive In White House COVID-19 Outbreak; Pence’s Doctor Says VP Doesn’t Need To Quarantine: Live Updates

Two More Test Positive In White House COVID-19 Outbreak; Pence’s Doctor Says VP Doesn’t Need To Quarantine: Live Updates

Tyler Durden

Fri, 10/02/2020 – 14:27

Update (1420ET): After Mike Pence allegedly filled in for Trump during an earlier conference call with US governors earlier Friday, reporters are claiming that the VP also handled a call with seniors that was the only remaining event on President Trump’s schedule Friday.

Pence’s physician has also released a statement declaring that Pence is negative and that, per CDC guidelines, doesn’t need to quarantine.

Though Trump’s doctor said earlier that Trump would continue to govern from the residence, he has apparently taken the day off from his official duties as he and his team are presumably trying to figure out his next move.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary McEnany mimicked Meadows’ earlier reticence when she told reporters she wouldn’t be commenting on Trump’s condition.

Not exactly reassuring.

* * *

Update (1350ET): Kayleigh McEnany just dismissed rumors, spread overnight by the NYT, that Trump might be forced off the ballot due to his COVID-19 status.

We look forward to hearing her weigh in on all the other crackpot theories emerging about Trump’s illness being a ruse, a con or part of an intricate plot to kill Joe Biden.

As reporters scramble for the latest and greatest scoops, Fox Business reported earlier that Trump is weighing whether to deputize Pence. Reporters, including the NYT’s Maggie Haberman, confirmed that Pence filled in for Trump during a call Friday. Trump could invoke Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to make Pence his temporary deputy, like BoJo did with Dominic Raab.

* * *

Update (1335ET): Pretty soon, CNN is going to declare the West Wing the biggest COVID-19 ‘hot spot’.

Because the cable news network just reported that two more COVID-19 cases, one involving a journalist, and one involving a staffer, have just been reported. The staffer was reportedly a junior employee.

Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien – better known to the American public as “the BridgeGate guy” – just confirmed that all events involving members of the First Family be cancelled, or be converted to virtual format.

All other campaign events will be evaluated on a “case by case” basis.

Meanwhile, Trump’s aides are still exploring ways for him to speak to the American public. Though a national address was reportedly dismissed as an option, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Trump film some kind of pre-recorded speech, or perhaps choose something else along those lines, as he seeks to show America that he’s still in control.

* * *

Update (1240ET): With its latest scoop of the day, the NYT has just reported that VP Pence will take Trump’s place on a call with governors on Friday.

Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said early Friday morning that Trump would continue shouldering his duties from the residence. We included a detailed explanation for how Trump could temporarily deputize Pence – or how Pence and Trump’s cabinet could vote to deputize Pence should Trump become incapacitated – below.

It’s just the latest piece of news reported by NYT reporter Maggie Haberman.

Trump’s absence, of course, raises questions about his condition and whether he might invoke ‘Section 3’ and deputize Pence during part of his recovery.

* * *

Update (1210ET): Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow spoke to reporters to try and reassure markets late Friday morning, a ploy that appears to be working – at least for now. During the briefing, Kudlow said that Trump will take at least 10 days off the campaign trail, hinting that Trump does expect to return to in-person campaigning before Election Day.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has reportedly tested negative.

* * *

Update (1200ET): Here’s a rundown of who in Trump’s inner circle has tested negative, now that AG Barr has tested negative, rounding out the list of top Trump cabinet officials. To recap, the list of officials who have tested negative includes:

  • Pompeo
  • Mike Pence & Karen Pence
  • Mnuchin
  • Barr
  • Meadows
  • Jared & Ivanka
  • Dan Scavino
  • Amy Barrett
  • Barron Trump
  • Chad Wolf
  • Gen. Mark Milley
  • Alex Azar
  • John Ratcliffe

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani is in the process of getting tested, and we’re still waiting on Biden’s test results. Sen Mike Lee has also tested positive.

* * *

Update (1150ET): White House reporters have just confirmed that the White House didn’t reach out to the Biden campaign after Hope Hicks tested positive.

That should give CNN something to squawk about until Monday.

In other news, AG Barr has tested negative on Friday, and the first lady has confirmed to reporters that she’s experiencing mild symptoms.

* * *

Update (1050ET): White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows delivered the first press briefing since Trump and the First Lady tested positive last night. He confirmed that Trump is experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, though he wouldn’t say anything about what treatments – hydroxychloroquine? – Trump may or may not be taking.

“I’m not going to get into any treatment that he may or may not have…he has mild symptoms…the doctor will continue to provide expertise in the residence,” he said.

Meadows added that it was a near certainty that others in the White House would experience a positive test result, but the administration takes precautions like testing all of the president’s top aides every day.

Trump is in the residence and is in “good spirits”, Meadows said. He’s “probably critiquing how I’m answering these questions.” Most of Trump’s core staffers, with the exception of Hicks, have tested negative.  Meadows said he, Kushner and Trump aide Dan Scavino had all tested negative.

The president kept his normal schedule after learning that one of his aides, Hicks, tested positive.

He added that Trump would remain on the job for now, before promising that he would deliver more updates from time to time,.

Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg felt compelled to point out to its terminal subscribers that Meadows wasn’t wearing a mask during the briefing…

  • MEADOWS ISN’T WEARNING MASK AS HE SPEAKS WITH REPORTERS

…though Meadows said he had just tested negative and would stand six feet away from reporters as a precaution.

Meanwhile, Trump’s new campaign manager had ordered all staffers to wear masks.

CNBC’s Eamon Javers reported that a large number of White House staffers are “working from home” on Friday.

* * *

Update (1000ET): This clip of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been gaining traction Friday morning, due to Lewandowski’s comments about being repeatedly tested with the Abbott Labs rapid results test, which WH visitors are required to take before meeting with Trump. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, I believe the senior staff will be self isolating.” Lewandowski said. Mnuchin has already said he won’t be quarantining after testing negative.

Lewandowski was brought on to deliver his reaction to the news of Trump being infected.

* * *

Update (0940ET): The Associated Press just confirmed via a top White House official that Trump is experiencing “mild” symptoms.

NBC News has also confirmed the “mild” symptoms.

President Donald Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for the coronavirus, NBC News reported Friday morning, citing a White House official.

The AP also noted that the president didn’t wear a mask at any of the campaign’s stops on Thursday.

* * *

Update (0920ET): Nancy Pelosi has followed Joe Biden by expressing her sympathies to President Trump, saying she was “deeply saddened” by the news. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told reporters Friday that she wasn’t aware of Hope Hicks positive test result before yesterday’s press briefing.

As analysts are trying to parse how widely the virus may have spread within the West Wing, Dr. Gottlieb returned to CNBC to explain that patients are most infectious right before they start showing symptoms.

According to research, a 74-year-old has approximately a 3% chance of death from COVID-19 and a 10%-15% chance of severe illness. However, with Trump’s BMI of 30 putting him on the verge of being morbidly obese, some research suggests he could be as much as 3x as susceptible to serious symptoms.

In its latest update on the market reaction, Reuters reported that a speedy recovery could help reassure markets and cement Trump’s image as a “fighter”. But if the 74-year-old president gets sick and has to be hospitalized, it would likely alarm investors, and possibly impact the president’s support.

“The President of the United States has got a disease which kills people. People are de-risking because of that,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne.

* * *

Update (0832ET): The NYT beat its competitors by publishing the first “behind-the-scenes” look at the events of Thursday and Friday, as President Trump confronted the news that one of his top aides had fallen ill, before learning that he and his wife had been infected.

It also offered the first hint that the next two debates will likely be cancelled, or the format substantially modified.

It’s almost certain that the remaining two debates between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden will be canceled or drastically changed. The next one is scheduled for less than two weeks from now, on Oct. 15, and medical guidance would most likely keep the president isolated until then.

While also pointing out that under Washington DC’s quarantine rules, Trump won’t be able to leave the area during the final stretch of the campaign.

And after having gone forward with the rallies he craves, despite rules against large gatherings in many states, Mr. Trump will not be able to leave Washington during a final, crucial stretch of the campaign.

Perhaps the most salacious claim reported by the NYT is that Trump aides are discussing ways to get him out in front of the cameras on Friday to project an image of strength and reassure the American electorate that he would still be leading the country. One aide even suggested delivering a national address.

“Trump is now in the position of becoming exhibit No. 1 for the failure of his leadership on coronavirus, and he runs the risk that his supporters will feel misled by his dismissiveness of the virus and the need for precautions,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.

While Trump has never been a sympathetic individual, the fact that both he and his wife have fallen ill could help drum up public sympathy, especially as the public reacts to the deranged tweets from leftists praying for Trump’s demise.

NYT White House reporter Maggie Haberman shared reports that Trump seemed lethargic and may have been mildly symptomatic with cold-like symptoms on Thursday during a meeting with donors at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey. Some of her sources also claimed that Trump fell asleep on a flight back from the Minnesota rally, and may have been symptomatic as early as Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a DoJ spokesperson has just revealed that AG Barr will be tested Friday morning.

* * *

Update (0750ET): VP Mike Pence and the Second Lady, Karen Pence, have both tested negative for the virus, though they will both need to be tested again repeatedly in the coming days.

* * *

Update (0730ET): Joe Biden will be tested for COVID-19 Friday morning, according to one of his aides.

  • BIDEN IS EXPECTED TO GET COVID TEST THIS MORNING, AIDE SAYS

Meanwhile, Trump’s illness prompted the White House to cancel political events on Friday, including a rally planned outside Orlando, Florida. Upcoming campaign and fundraising events including visits to battlegrounds like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada are expected to be scrapped as Trump moves to quarantine until he starts testing negative.

Before we move on to the next major update, let’s take a second and put on our tinfoil hats as the conspiracy theories come pouring in.

In terms of treatment, President Trump has said he’s taken hyrdoxychloroquine in the past. He could take that, along with Gilead’s remdesivir, or the steroid dexamethasone.

The revised White House schedule has the president only taking a call with a group of senior citizens, with everything else having been cleared.

* * *

President Trump has just become the latest in a growing list of world leaders to havae contracted SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Trump broke the news that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive via Twitter early Friday morning hours after Bloomberg reported that Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides, had tested positive, and was symptomatic.

Trump will begin a quarantine process that will see him and the First Lady remaining in the White House, where President Trump will continue to handle his presidential duties, much in the same way that Canada’s Justin Trudeau did after he and his wife tested positive. A note from Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, was also released.

As the MSM fixates on whether Trump knowingly violated CDC guidelines when he traveled to New Jersey Thursday morning to meet with a group of donors…

…President Trump’s tweet announcing the news has already become his most shared and most liked Tweet ever.

Bloomberg has published this clip show Hicks and a handful of other senior Trump aides board Marine One with the president earlier this week.

All of the donors and senior White House staff who have been in contact with Trump, the First Lady, and Hope Hicks will now be contacted and tested as quickly as possible. Former FDA head Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he believes the administration will perform serial tests on the president, while bringing in the most sensitive testing equipment possible to monitor the donors and Trump’s staff.

VP Mike Pence will almost certainly need to quarantine given his close contact with Trump. That could create serious problems for the upcoming VP debate, while Trump’s quarantine period would also overlap with the second presidential debate vs. Joe Biden. Doctors are saying that Joe Biden should also get tested, which he almost certainly will be.

As a reminder.

Speaking of the market reaction, PredictIt told Bloomberg that the news would lead to unprecedented action in online political betting markets, as pundits weigh whether Trump being infected improves his chances of victory, or not.

The news that US President Donald Trump has tested positive for Covid-19 just a month before the presidential election will ripple across political prediction markets throughout Friday and into the weekend as forecasters grapple with the implications, according to PredictIt. “I have no doubt that today will be one of the biggest trading days in political prediction market history,” Will Jennings, a PredictIt spokesperson, said via email.

PredictIt said on Twitter that there’s an 80%-85% chance that Friday will be the biggest day it’s ever seen. The most interesting reaction to the news on PredictIt’s platform was the market for who will carry Ohio, which flipped to Joe Biden.

A chart from Bloomberg showed that perceived odds of a Biden victory spiked on the news.

At least one site, online gambling site Betfair, suspended betting on the outcome of the US election after Trump’s announcement, but beforehand, its bettors were heavily favoring Joe Biden.

As US futures followed European stocks lower, Treasuries rallied Friday morning. Here’s RaboBank with more on that.

There are obviously an extreme range of possible scenarios regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, and such uncertainties explain why U.S. stocks are down while the dollar and Treasuries are up, according to Rabobank. On one hand, Trump’s illness could be fatal and at an extreme, he might have passed it to Joe Biden; this is very unlikely, but not a zero possibility, says Michael Every, head of Asia financial markets research in Hong Kong at the bank On the other hand, Trump might recover, backed by the best White House doctors, and use the next two weeks’ media attention to focus on how the coronavirus is something that can be overcome. He could also gain a sym

Moving beyond the market implications, millions of Americans are now wondering: If Trump gets seriously ill – which is possible, even likely, given his age – what happens next. Well, as Brookings Institute scholar John Hudak explains, if Trump is incapacitated, or feels he soon might become incapacitated, the 25th Amendment would then come into play. It has two relevant sections: Section 3, and Section 4.

Already, Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Grassley – the first three individuals in the line of presidential succession – are likely being given additional protection. If Trump falls seriously ill, he could elect to temporarily deputize Pence to serve as commander-in-chief. If the president is somehow incapacitated before that can happen, Pence and the members of Trump’s cabinet have another option: they could vote to initiate Section 4 of the 25th Amendment – remember, all the MSM’s speculation about Trump’s mental state was intended to strengthen the case for a Section 4 “coup”, as Steve Bannon once called it. After a successful vote, Congress would be notified, and Pence would take the reins.

Here’s Hudak, who explains that, while rare, there is precedent for this situation (courtesy of Brookings.edu):

A positive COVID-19 test for the president, in itself, is not a cause for emergency action. Millions of people around the world have contracted the disease and have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. The president would likely be able to continue his everyday activities and manage the office either undisturbed or with mild challenges. A presidential diagnosis would create some challenges for those around him. 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.

There would need to be other precautions taken, even if the president were to be asymptomatic. First, those in the line of succession would need to be protected. It would be important to keep Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Grassley (President Pro Tempore), and members of the cabinet isolated from the president. It would be especially important to ensure that the vice president have limited contact with individuals generally to reduce his chances of contracting the virus as well.

Second, it would be important for the president to continue to communicate with the American public, especially if he is mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. Seeing the president on camera can restore faith in his wellness, calm nervous Americans, stabilize stock markets (that would surely see a dip in the event of a positive test), and project to the world that the president remains well enough to execute the office.

We’ve experienced something like this before. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a serious stroke, and his wife kept even his closest advisers from seeing the president, likely out of fear that they would find him incapacitated and thus throwing the nation into a serious leadership crisis. Such a scenario (hiding the president’s condition) would not be possible today, but an extended absence of a president—especially during a pandemic—would raise serious questions and become a destabilizing force in politics, the economy, and the public.

Contingencies for a seriously ill president

Although the president has access to some of the best and most immediate health care in the world, his age and obesity put him into higher risk categories for more serious symptoms for COVID-19. Patient experiences range dramatically, but some of the most serious courses of treatment include use of a ventilator. When a patient is put on a ventilator, the patient is non-verbal because of the insertion of the tube through the vocal cords and they are given some level of sedation, ranging from minimal to deep sedation. During this time, a patient’s cognitive abilities would at least be affected or completely absent. More intensive sedation therapies, including drug-induced paralysis, can be used in the treatment of severe COVID-19 complications.

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. If the president is given notice that he is to be administered therapies that will impair his ability to perform the duties of office—for functional reasons, cognitive reasons, or both—under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the president can transmit to the House and Senate “his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

The invocation of Section 3 of the 25th Amendment has happened multiple times. President Reagan did so in 1985 and President George W. Bush did so twice in 2002 and 2007. Each time was for medical procedures in which anesthesia or heavy sedation was used. President Clinton likely should have invoked Section 3 during a 1997 knee surgery, but opted not to, claiming he was never put under general anesthesia. When Section 3 is invoked, the vice president becomes “acting president” until the president notifies the House and Senate that he is able to perform his duties once again.

In the event that the president were sick, his condition declined rapidly, and he was unable to invoke Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, Section 4 provides a solution to such a crisis. Under Section 4, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can send notice to the House and Senate “that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” And as in the case of invoking Section 3, the vice president will serve as acting president. Once a president recovers, he can transmit that to the House and Senate, and he will re-take the powers unless the vice president and a majority of the cabinet tell Congress that the president remains incapacitated—at which point Congress would vote on incapacity.

The latter is the intended use of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. While some of the president’s opponents have fantastically called for the vice president and cabinet to declare the president incapacitated based on disagreements with his behaviors, amateur diagnoses of non-specific medical issues, or dissatisfaction with his temperament, that should not diminish the importance of the provisions of Section 4. There can be real scenarios in which the president’s medical condition suddenly creates an incapacity, and in that situation, the country will have an individual who is able to execute the full powers of the office of president—in that case, Acting President Mike Pence. 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.

* * *

Moving on to the next critical issue: the Supreme Court. Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee, stood next to the president on Saturday when he unveiled her nomination during a briefing in the Rose Garden. Before the press conference, which was held outside, although neither Barrett nor Trump wore masks, the federal judge and her family spent “hours” at the White House, while her children entertained themselves in the Roosevelt Room. Barrett will likely need to quarantine, and if she, too, is sickened, it could delay the confirmation process, possibly until after election day.

CNBC’s Eamon Javers speculated that President Trump may have held his final rally of the campaign, although there would still be two weeks or so left in the campaign once the 2-week quarantine period is over.

With markets in turmoil Friday morning ahead of the last jobs report before the election, Fundstrat’s Thomas Block appeared on CNBC Friday morning to opine that Trump’s COVID-19 status could change the political arithmetic for the stimulus bill, opening a new possibility that a deal might get done.

“I think it really hits home that this is real, this is not going away…and that even the president of the United States…that even he and his wife could get it…it really brings home that…this is a wake up call. This isn’t going away…there’s a bill ready to go and they’re so close,” Block said.

Others said that Trump being sickened would undermine the administration’s anti-mail-in-ballot push, which could make it more likely that the outcome of the vote is known on election day, or shortly thereafter.

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Author: Tyler Durden

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