The news of President Donald Trump’s positive test result Thursday night shows that the COVID-19 virus is not a respecter of persons or position, according to a specialist in infectious diseases for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“If one of the most powerful leaders in the world is susceptible to COVID and its consequences, that’s incredibly sobering and sad, and I’m very sorry it happened,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, who works in UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
Speaking Friday in the school’s regular online news conference about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and its effects, Marrazzo said, “I really, really hope that it perhaps makes some people who might have dismissed COVID and haven’t experienced the personal effects of it sit up and pay attention, because you can prevent yourself, protect yourself, protect yourself and your family and your community by doing the things that we have been boringly and endlessly repeating every single time we get together, which is wearing a mask, social distancing and hand hygiene.”
The president announced on Twitter just before midnight Thursday that both he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. The news came shortly after a positive result for Hope Hicks, a member of Trump’s inner circle of advisers. Hicks was the Trump administration’s communications director until 2018 and returned last March to work as a counselor to Trump. She had traveled with the Trumps just before she tested positive for COVID-19, which led to the tests of the First Family.
Trump is not the only world leader to have contracted COVID-19. United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson overcame a severe case of the virus that resulted in a stay in intensive care in March and April. England’s Prince Charles also contracted the virus but suffered few symptoms. Additionally, the presidents of Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, Belarus and the Dominican Republic all tested positive, as did Prince Albert II, ruler of Monaco.
Trump has been at times skeptical of preventive measures such as wearing face masks, despite being in two categories that increase his risk of complications from COVID-19 — he’s a male over age 70, and technically obese. Still, Trump has been photographed wearing a mask only one or two times.
Marrazzo continues to extol the preventative benefits of face masks and other measures.
“Masks really work, and again we have biological data based on how the virus behaves when you sneeze or cough, and I think even more compellingly now, the epidemiological data continues to accrue that when you use masks, the community benefits. And I think that’s just not arguable anymore. So you can protect yourself — I think that’s the most empowering thing you can do for all of us,” she said.