WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump confirmed he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has now killed more than 205,000 people nationwide. In a memorandum, the president’s physician said that the president and first lady “are both well at this time” and “plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
Here are 4 things to know about Trump’s diagnosis and battle with the coronavirus:
Trump is considered “high risk”
Age and obesity are two of the factors make someone “high risk” for coronavirus complications.
People in the age range of 65-74 face a five times greater risk of hospitalization than adults between the ages of 18-29, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Additionally, studies show excess weight increases the chances of serious complications from a coronavirus infection. One study of more than 5,200 infected people, including 35% who were obese, found that the chances of hospitalization rose for people with higher BMIs, even when taking into account other conditions that could put them at risk.
It’s believed the president’s BMI is around 30 which would classify him as mildly obese or obese, though medical guidelines can differ.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people with several chronic conditions are more likely to experience dangerous symptoms if infected with COVID-19 . These include severe obesity and serious heart disease.
Survival is very likely
“Odds are very much in his favor,” said CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta when reacting to the president’s diagnosis.
Gupta noted that even with his medical risks, there’s a 90-95% chance Trump will get through this.
The medical world has made much progress since the height of the pandemic in March and April. Death rates in the United States continue to fall, said Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, a former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist now at the nonprofit group Resolve to Save Lives.
“The U.S. cumulative case fatality rate in April was around 5%. Now we’re around 3%,” Shahpar said.
It’s clear that treatments also are affecting survival, many doctors said. People who have died from COVID-19, especially ones who took part in studies, have helped reveal what drugs do or do not help.
Aside from medication, “the case fatality rate is actually improving over time as physicians get more adept at taking care of these very sick patients,” said Dr. Gary Gibbons, director of the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Trump likely got the virus from an advisor
Trump’s announcement came hours after he confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of most trusted and longest-serving aides, had been diagnosed with the virus Thursday. Hicks began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride home from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday evening, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private information. She was isolated from other passengers aboard the plane, the person said.
Hicks had been with Trump and other senior staff aboard Marine One and Air Force One en route to that rally and had accompanied the president to Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland, along with members of the Trump family. They did not wear masks during the debate, in violation of the venue rules.
It is unclear where the Trumps and Hicks may have caught the virus, but in a Fox interview Thursday evening, Trump seemed to suggest it may have been spread by someone in the military or law enforcement.
“It’s very, very hard when you are with people from the military or from law enforcement, and they come over to you, and they want to hug you, and they want to kiss you,” he said, “because we really have done a good job for them. And you get close. And things happen.”
Questions about what’s next
While there is currently no evidence that Trump is seriously ill, the positive test raises questions about what would happen if he were to become incapacitated due to illness.
The Constitution’s 25th Amendment spells out the procedures under which a president can declare themselves “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the presidency. If he were to make that call, Trump would transmit a written note to the Senate president pro tempore, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Pence would serve as acting president until Trump transmitted “a written declaration to the contrary.”
The vice president and a majority of either the Cabinet or another body established by law, can also declare the president unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, in which case Pence would “immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President” until Trump could provide a written declaration to the contrary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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