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October 5, 2020

President Trump and first lady test positive for COVID-19

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. If time allows, watch this NewsHour video (Oct. 2) from when news broke of President Donald Trump’s contracting coronavirus.

Summary: On Friday, Oct. 2, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. The announcement came just weeks before the presidential election on November 3.

  • Trump and his wife had planned to quarantine for 14 days, but on Friday night with the president’s condition worsening, Trump flew to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Just hours before, Trump’s physician had reported “both are well at this time.” In a news conference, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s White House physician, also seemed to evade questions from the press about whether or not the president had been put on oxygen.
  • On Sunday, Dr. Conley said Trump’s blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days, but he “has continued to improve.” Conley’s statement added a new layer of confusion to the president’s fight with COVID-19, suggesting he could be discharged from the hospital as early as Monday despite significant health effects.
  • Several top Trump administrations officials and Republican U.S. senators who had attended the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court justice have since tested positive for coronavirus.
  • News first broke of coronavirus affecting members of Trump’s inner circle when Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s top aides, tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.
  • On the evening of the presidential debate on Sept. 29, a couple of days before the positive test, Trump said, “When needed, I wear masks. I don’t wear masks like him [former Vice President Joe Biden]…Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” 
  • On Sunday, Trump drew criticism from health officials when he drove to see supporters outside Walter Reed, with many arguing that he was putting Secret Service members inside the vehicle at unnecessary risk of contracting COVID-19.

Discussion: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is this story about?
  • What is the significance of Trump contracting COVID-19?
  • When and where is this story taking place?
  • Why do you think Trump has been reluctant to follow his own CDC’s guidelines (Centers for Disease Control) of wearing a mask and social distancing?
  • How might the news of Trump testing positive for COVID affect the 2020 presidential election?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Focus questions:

  1. How might the coronavirus’s presence at the highest levels of government affect the country as a whole?
  2. Do you think Trump’s diagnosis will affect individuals who were skeptical of the seriousness of COVID-19 or those who call it a hoax? How about Trump himself?

Media literacy: 

  1. There are already many news stories coming out about the timeline of events as to when the President and others in his circle found out he had coronavirus. Why do you think stories regarding COVID-19 and the timeline of Trump’s actions have attracted the media’s attention? Do you think they are important? Why or why not?

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