Several top Democrats Friday said that they hope President Trump and first lady Melania Trump recover quickly from the coronavirus while adding that the diagnosis should be “a wake-up call” for the president to take “a saner approach” in his pandemic response that Democrats have been critical of for months.
The Trumps tested positive for the virus overnight Thursday into Friday after top White House adviser Hope Hicks tested positive on Thursday morning. The news of Hicks’ test did not break until Thursday night. Democrats have decried the Trump administration’s approach to the coronavirus for months saying that it should be taking more control of the nationwide response, encourage states to mandate masks and lock down their economies, focus more on testing and that Trump should not be holding large campaign rallies, some of which have been indoors.
“Mr. President—if these reports are confirmed, I wish you and the First Lady well,” Julian Castro, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said in a tweet. “I hope this is a wake up call that this virus is not a hoax or something cured by injecting bleach. We need a plan, not the same divisive, dangerous rhetoric.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., another also-ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, implied that the president should be doing some introspection as well.
“Jane and I wish the President and First Lady a full and speedy recovery. The COVID-19 virus is real, it is dangerous and can infect anybody. As a nation we must do all we can to fight this virus and protect the American people,” Sanders said.
And Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said the diagnosis of the president should “serve as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”
There was a moment during the presidential debate on Tuesday in which Trump mocked Biden for not holding large, non-socially distanced rallies like he is.
“So far we have had no problem whatsoever,” Trump said after moderator Chris Wallace asked him about holding large rallies with no social distancing. “It’s outside, which is a big deal, according to the experts… We have tremendous crowds as you see and literally on 24 hours notice, and Joe does the circles and has three people someplace.”
Biden shot back that Trump has been “totally irresponsible” on social distancing in his rallies and “a fool.”
Trump replied: “If you could get the crowds you would’ve done the same thing.”
Outside of the Democratic presidential primary victor and some of the runners-up, top Democratic members of Congress also weighed in. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on MSNBC she hopes the president will pivot to “a saner approach” on his handling of the pandemic in light of his diagnosis.
“We all received that news with great sadness. I always pray for the president and his family that they are safe, continue to do so more intensified, and I know that he’ll have the best of care, and that’s what we want for everyone in our country,” Pelosi said. “I hope this will be a moment where people will understand that what we have in our HEROES bill and what we have said over and over is we must have testing, tracing, treatment. We must have spatial distancing. We must be wearing our masks.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a Friday statement that Trump’s diagnosis is what happens “when you ignore science.”
“I wish President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump and any White House staff members who are infected a speedy recovery. I join the nation in praying for the First Family’s health and safety,” Schumer said.
He added: “What happened to President Trump is a reminder of why the whole country, including Senators and staff, must follow the science and follow the protocols laid out by the CDC and public health officials. When you ignore the science, you don’t wear a mask, and you don’t follow social distancing guidelines, it puts you and everyone around you at risk.”
Trump and the first lady are reportedly experiencing mild symptoms of the coronavirus, but Trump is continuing to work Friday, according to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“His first question to me this morning was ‘how is the economy doing,'” Meadows said of the president, who he added is in “good spirits.”
Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis is poised to upend Washington, D.C., just a month before the presidential election. Not only will Trump be off the campaign trail at least temporarily, but even if he recovers quickly it is unclear he will be out of quarantine before the second presidential debate, which is less than two weeks away.
Additionally, Senate Republicans have indicated they plan to move “full steam ahead” with the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who they want to have seated by the end of the month. But top Senate Democrats are calling for a delay on her hearings, set to start Oct. 12, in light of not only the test by the president but also a positive coronavirus test by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who met with Barrett this week and sits on the Judiciary Committee.
There are also talks for a coronavirus relief package going on, and the Senate is poised to potentially vote on the confirmation of a slate of federal district court judges next week.