Former Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana Wen said in a CNN appearance on Friday morning that President Donald Trump is likely to recover from COVID-19, but questioned the timeline surrounding his diagnosis.
“Even for someone who is older like the president in his 70s, with chronic medical conditions like obesity and heart disease, of course they are at higher risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19, but still, chances are he will make a complete recovery,” said Wen, who has been a frequent national commentator during the pandemic.
Still, there’s a long road ahead, Wen said, as Americans wait to hear if Trump develops symptoms like shortness of breath and lowered oxygen saturation levels, or requires hospitalization due to COVID-19. The president announced Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus.
In the meantime, negative test results from those who were in close contact with the president aren’t all that reassuring, she said, because those individuals could still test positive based on contact with the president or another infected individual.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, announced that they tested negative for the virus Friday morning. Meanwhile, some other top government officials, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who faced off with Trump at the first presidential debate Tuesday, are awaiting test results of their own.
Reporting from the New York Times suggested that Trump may have been experiencing mild cold-like symptoms, including drowsiness, at a fundraiser Thursday at his New Jersey golf club. Wen said that news leads her to wonder when exactly the president tested positive.
“It would be unusual for the president to just test positive now and to already have symptoms, considering that he’s been getting daily testing,” Wen said. “The testing should be picking up COVID-19 before someone starts having symptoms.”
In an earlier appearance on CNN on Friday morning, Wen said the president’s diagnosis should be a “reckoning” for the American people, especially those suffering from “quarantine fatigue.”
“It’s hard for us psychologically to think about people we love, our families and friends, having coronavirus,” Wen said. “But there is no face of someone who can have coronavirus.”