Former Surgeon General disappointed in Trump’s reaction to coronavirus
PHOENIX — Dr. Richard Carmona, the former U.S. Surgeon General who served under former President George W. Bush from 2002 to 2006, said Friday he thought President Donald Trump missed an opportunity to be a guiding figure of good public health behavior amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m disappointed that the president had an unusual opportunity, as probably the most visible person in the world, to model the behavior that he would want everybody in the United States to exemplify,” Carmona told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad. “That is wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands frequently.”
“I’m disappointed that we missed that opportunity.”
Trump and first lady Melania Trump both tested positive for the coronavirus early Friday morning after a top aide tested positive on Thursday.
The positive results come after the president spent months downplaying the coronavirus pandemic and rarely wearing a protective mask publicly.
Carmona said the country has been divided along political lines, causing some to ignore the best practices for health.
“The mask has become a political statement where it should be a health statement,” he said.
Upon hearing the news that Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, Carmona was worried about those around the president who also weren’t wearing masks or following public health guidelines.
“You think about all of the possible people that he came in contact with that can be spreading the infection, and that’s what the danger is for him or anybody else who doesn’t comply with the best public health practices,” Carmona said.
Along with Trump and the first lady, several others in the White House have also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Carmona says the best hope for Trump is to test negative a week-and-a-half to two weeks from the positive diagnosis in order to resume his campaign in an election that lies just over a month away.
He noted, however, the effect the virus will have on Trump is unclear considering the president is 74 years old and clinically obese.
“He can sail through, but he could also get very severely ill as some people have,” Carmona said. “There’s no way to predict that now.”
Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday evening for precautionary reasons and will continue to work in the hospital’s presidential suite, according to the White House.
After leaving for the hospital, Trump posted a video to Twitter saying he thinks he was doing very well.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
Trump earlier on Friday received a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail that is in clinical trials, and Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley said Trump “remains fatigued but in good spirits.”
The first lady, meanwhile, has a “mild cough and headache,” Conley reported.
Carmona cautions against disregarding public health guidelines, saying it’s the only playbook against the virus at this time.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, we haven’t turned a corner, it’s not almost over,” Carmona said.
“In fact, it’s very dangerous times if people start to avoid these public health practices, it can only get worse.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.