IN THE olden days (that means pre-pandemic), big announcements affecting the fate of a nation were made by an official or a spokesperson on television or before the press.
That didn’t happen when United States President Donald Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania tested positive for the coronavirus, specifically the Sars-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19. President Trump did it on Twitter on the evening of October 1, 2020 in his time zone after an exclusive news report broke out about a presidential aide getting a positive result for the same test.
The NiemanLab (www.niemanlab.org) published a report on how media organizations in the US reported the news on Trumps’ positive test result. The report said that at 8:39 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, Oct. 1, Jennifer Jacobs, White House senior reporter for Bloomberg News, broke the news that Hope Hicks, a close aide to President Trump, had tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19.) (The NiemanLab or Nieman Journalism Lab is an online publication of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at the Harvard University.)
Then at 10:44 p.m., Trump used Twitter to announce Hicks’ positive test and said that he and the First Lady were waiting for their test results. At 12:54 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, he tweeted that he and his wife tested positive.
That’s an unusual way of letting the American public know of the health status of the President. The usual way would have been for the White House to call for a press conference in the morning to let the spokesperson or Trump’s doctor speak with details about the finding and the President’s condition. It was later learned that Trump was symptomatic and was feeling ill since Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Nobody knows if Vice President Michael Pence will have to take over the White House. It was reported later that Trump will be hospitalized for a few days at a military hospital. He gave a short video statement before leaving for the hospital.
Following Trump’s disclosure, the stock market immediately reacted because of the uncertainty and the lack of immediate information through formal channels. It was hours later when his staff started giving media updates and Trump’s hospitalization.
Leaders have their own ways of letting their citizens know of their health condition. But there are non-negotiables for leaders or for anyone else when it comes to the Covid-19. Those who had contact with a positive person should isolate themselves and check for symptoms. Trump did not isolate himself and even went to a public function, without wearing a mask, after his aide was found to have the virus. He continued to meet with White House staff even if he already showed symptoms.
He had his own way of announcing to the world his condition through Twitter. He should not have had it his way since he knew he could have the virus. Now, positive for the virus and in the hospital, no way can he have it his way as medical protocols will dictate his actions. Mask and all.