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Trump is not the primary sitting U.S. president to contract a probably lethal virus in the course of a pandemic — so did Woodrow Wilson in 1918


President Donald Trump introduced Friday that he has examined optimistic for Covid-19, and he is not the primary sitting president to contract a extremely contagious and probably lethal virus in the course of a pandemic.

Former President Woodrow Wilson turned sick with the 1918 flu when he was in Paris in April 1919 organizing a peace treaty and the League of Nations following World Struggle I. 

Wilson wasn’t a wholesome man and “all the time frail,” mentioned Howard Markel, a doctor and medical historian on the College of Michigan. He would go on to have signs reminiscent of headache, excessive fever, cough and runny nostril, Markel mentioned. A lot of Wilson’s aides would additionally contract the flu, together with his chief of workers, he added.

Trump tweeted in a single day that he and first woman Melania Trump examined optimistic for the coronavirus after the White Home confirmed that aide Hope Hicks had examined optimistic and had some signs. 

Trump was experiencing “delicate signs” after testing positive for the coronavirus, White Home chief of workers Mark Meadows confirmed to reporters Friday morning. The announcement got here hours after the administration confirmed that White Home aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus. 

For Wilson, the virus “took its toll on him,” Markel mentioned. “That may have neurologic and long-term issues. And he was already on the time touring and dwelling on a practice and giving 5 to 10 speeches a day. That is not wholesome.” 

When he bought again to the US, Wilson went on a whistle-stop tour to get the League of Nations ratified, which finally failed, Markel mentioned. Whereas on his tour, Wilson turned thinner, paler and extra frail, Markel would write in a column. He misplaced his urge for food, his bronchial asthma grew worse and he complained of unrelenting complications, he added. He would later have a foul stroke.

“His spouse principally took over the presidency after that,” he added.

Many infectious illness specialists and medical historians have drawn different parallels between 1918 and at this time. Faculties and companies have been additionally closed and contaminated folks have been quarantined a century in the past. Folks have been additionally proof against carrying face masks, calling them dirt traps and some clipped holes so they might smoke cigars. 

A number of U.S. cities carried out mandates, describing them as a logo of “wartime patriotism.” In San Francisco, then-Mayor James Rolph mentioned, “[C]onscience, patriotism and self-protection demand fast and inflexible compliance,” in response to influenzaarchive.org, which is authored by Markel. However some folks refused to conform or take them significantly, Markel mentioned.

“One girl, a downtown lawyer, argued to Mayor Rolph that the masks ordinance was ‘completely unconstitutional’ as a result of it was not legally enacted, and that in consequence, each police officer who had arrested a masks scofflaw was personally liable,” in response to influenzaarchive.org.

As with Trump, some studies and historians have recommended that Wilson downplayed the severity of the virus. However Markel mentioned that could be a “flawed and a false trope of standard historical past.”

The federal authorities performed a really small function in American public well being throughout that period, he mentioned. In contrast to at this time, there was no CDC or nationwide public well being division. The Meals and Drug Administration existed, however it consisted of a really small group of males.

“It was primarily a metropolis and state function, and people businesses have been hardly downplaying it,” Markel mentioned. 

In contrast to at this time, Wilson didn’t get sick throughout his reelection, Markel mentioned. He mentioned the general public must know “how wholesome or how not wholesome” Trump is earlier than the election on Nov. 3. 

“Whenever you’re voting for a president now, you actually are probably voting for the vp,” he mentioned. “As a result of what if Trump will get sick and will get incapacitated or worse between Election Day and Jan. 20 due to Covid? Effectively then the elected vp turns into president.”

“The significance of him being clear, open and trustworthy — or his docs — together with his well being circumstances is one thing I am skeptical we’ll see. However it’s essential,” Markel mentioned. 


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