President Donald Trump’s visits to factories could put workers’ lives at risk by possibly exposing them to the coronavirus, NBC News reports. These visits could also put the lives of locals in the communities he visits at risk, say some analysts.
Though Trump himself has consistently and repeatedly tested negative for the coronavirus, as has Vice President Mike Pence, the problem lies in the fact that a presidential visit to a city doesn’t just involve the POTUS. Hundreds of people are involved directly or indirectly in the visit: aides, guards, members of the press, pilots, and drivers. Any of them could be carrying the virus and be asymptomatic and could thus spread the pathogen unknowingly as they accompany Trump on a factory tour.
Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert, says that having Trump visit a factory is a risky proposition.
“If I’m a factory owner, do I really want a large group of visitors from the West Wing visiting me now under these circumstances, just to snap a few pictures? No,” Gupta said.
U.S. President Donald #Trump is wearing safety goggles but no mask during a visit to a Honeywell factory in Phoenix, which is making N95 masks for the federal government’s coronavirus response. pic.twitter.com/0qxRPCLq0e
— China News 中国新闻网 (@Echinanews) May 6, 2020
Further, when Trump comes through a city to tour a factory, the number of places visited by the presidential team isn’t limited just to factory employees. A presidential visit requires weeks of planning and laying groundwork, and that puts members of the POTUS’ team in hotels and at local businesses for days if not weeks before and after the visit, possibly exposing even more people to the virus.
Greg Jenkins, who served as deputy assistant to the president and director of White House advance operations during the George W. Bush administration, said that the White House has to look at every possible instance in which a team member could infringe on social distancing and then try to mitigate that possibility. He calls that “almost impossible.”
Similarly, Johanna Maska, who worked during the Obama administration, says that Washington, D.C., is currently in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak.
“Every time they put him on the road they’re sending people from Washington, D.C., a place that’s not experiencing a decrease [in coronavirus cases] yet,” Maska says.
Dr. Gupta, for his part, says that Trump should “lead by example” and limit his nonessential travel.
It’s a sentiment shared by Pennsylvania Democrat Madeleine Dean. Her state has already seen at least one factory ask the president not to come; he and his team toured a different Pennsylvania factory instead.
“The safer thing to do would be to sincerely thank this manufacturing facility and not put anybody at risk,” Dean said.