President Trump, the Coronavirus and Masks

Coronavirus Daily
Bloomberg

Here's the latest news:

Trump, the Coronavirus and Masks 

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus.

It's come as a shock, adding to many since the beginning of the pandemic. Trump has canceled all his public events, including a rally today in Florida, and U.S. markets are already registering signs of uncertainty. Yet in some ways, it's not that surprising.

He isn't the first world leader to catch the virus. Trump is in his 70s, male and obese, which puts him in a higher-risk category. And the president regularly holds indoor rallies with thousands of people who, like him, disdain masks.

Trump regularly downplays the importance of face coverings, and said in Tuesday night's debate that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wears them at times when they're unnecessary.

Donald Trump with First Lady Melania as they head to the debate on Sept. 29.

Photographer: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Trump and his wife were in contact adviser Hope Hicks, who accompanied them on a plane ride to a rally and then fell ill. Trump says that he doesn't need to wear a mask in such settings because his contacts are tested for coronavirus.

The episode shows that the virus can find its way through defenses like these. Tests don't always work, and people who appear well can harbor the virus and infect others for days. This is why most public health officials are advising the wearing of masks in public.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also spurned masks earlier in the outbreak, even as he met and shook hands with National Health Service workers caring for coronavirus patients. After he contracted the virus and had a serious bout of disease, he became much more cautious and advised British citizens to do the same.

Trump's catching the virus may help more skeptics realize how contagious the disease is. It could also persuade him to be more direct with the public about the importance of masks. He may even wear one more often himself.

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What you should read

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