President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus after contracting it from a close aide, raising concerns about the impact the infection will have on the final sprint of his campaign trail, as well as the upcoming presidential election.
The president announced early Friday morning around 1 a.m. that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, have tested positive for the deadly virus. Since then, the White House said the president reported a fever and is heading to Walter Reed Medical Military Center.
President Trump’s diagnosis has raised serious questions about the transfer of power in the event that he becomes incapacitated or unable to govern. According to the 25th Amendment established in 1967, the Constitution provides instructive protocol to grant power to the vice-president to become “acting president.”
The president tested positive after Hope Hicks, a close aide who traveled with him on the campaign trail this week and to the first presidential debate, contracted the coronavirus. Some White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have recently tested negative.
President Trump, 74, is in a high-risk category, as he’s old and overweight. Considering his high-risk and his developing symptoms, electoral experts fear a potential election crisis since the presidential election is nearly one month away.
The White House has considered the potential threatening spread that’ll happen in the West Wing but says that the executive branch will “move forward.” In the meantime, the president has temporarily canceled upcoming in-person campaign events.
Meadows told reporters Friday that he expects that “other people in the White House will certainly have a positive test result, and we’ve got the mitigation plan in place to make sure the government not only continues to move forward but the work of the American people continues to move forward.”
In the event that President Trump is completely incapacitated with the election approaching, the Republican National Committee would have to select a new nominee to lead the party’s ticket for the upcoming election. This would likely ignite an electoral crisis, as millions of Americans—both overseas and in states that allow early voting—have already started casting their ballots. Since Election Day is just a few weeks away, it’s likely that Trump’s name would still appear on the ballot, even if he stands incapacitated.
However, that would be a worst-case scenario and is highly unlikely to actually happen.
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.