US President Donald Trump is diagnosed with Coronavirus just a month before the US Presidential election denting his chances further to an easy win. Similar to the Spanish Flu that had wreaked havoc from 1918 to 1920 in the US, the startling political developments have raised many eye brows to the fact that history repeats itself.
What Happened 100 Years Ago
In 1919, then US President Woodrow Wilson was affected by the global pandemic Spanish flu and more than 675,000 Americans died from the contagious disease.
Even in 1918, Wilson’s personal secretary was affected by the influenza, along with his eldest daughter, while many Secret Service members also caught the virus, including sheep grazing on the White House lawn.
Woodrow Wilson was in France for the Paris Peace Conference negotiating with the French at the end of World War I and after flu, he reportedly “yielded to several French demands that he had previously said were nonnegotiable.”
Wilson fell ill on April 3, 1919 and according to A. Scott Berg’s 2013 biography, “Wilson,” the president excused himself from a meeting with the Council of Four and returned to his room. His doctor, Cary T. Grayson, found the president suffering from severe pains in his back and head, severe coughing spells and a temperature of 103 degrees, Berg wrote.
Wilson’s condition deteriorated so quickly that Grayson even thought the president had been poisoned. In his mail to President’s chief of staff in Washington, Grayson wrote:”I was able to control the spasms of coughing but his condition looked very serious.” However, he told reporters that the president was suffering from a cold caused by the “chilly and rainy weather” in Paris.
Though Wilson had a full recovery, he suffered a collapse on Sept. 25, 1919, in Pueblo, Colorado, while speaking on his idea of the United States joining the League of Nations. Wilson returned to the White House, where he suffered a severe stroke on Oct. 2, 1919. His wife Edith apparently steered the government until Warren G. Harding took over formally as President in 1921.
What’s Happening Now
Hundred Years after, in March 2020 When the novel coronavirus gripped the world, US President Donald Trump brushed it aside as another flu outbreak that would go away once the summer sets in. When it reached an uncontrollable pandemic proportion, his disdain for a mask prompted his staff in the White House refrain from wearing a mask despite pleas to contrary by the CDC.
As in the case of Wilson, Trump’s close aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus after spending time in close proximity to the president in the entire week preceding the diagnosis. Soon, President Donald Trump tweeted confirming that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19.
Unlike in 1920 when President Wilson was not in Presidential race due to his illness, Trump is very much in the hectic campaign finishing the first round of Presidential Debates just a week before the diagnosis on October 2, that may defer the second debate slated for October 15, 2020.
Return to Normalcy
Though many world leaders have successfully returned to duties after suffering from the bouts of Covid-19 infection, Trump’s age has pushed him into the most vulnerable age group at 74 years. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory issued on Sept. 11, 2020, “people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s.”
In June 2020, Trump weighed 244 pounds. For his height at 6 feet 3 inches, with a body mass index of 30.5, he is technically obese and as per the CDC, obese individuals are three times more likely than others to suffer severe symptoms of Covid-19. However, Trump does not have prominently high blood pressure, nor any cancer, kidney disease, or diabetes.
If Trump returns to normal health and wins the election, he may have rewritten the history of pandemic deja vu in the history of US or else, it would be a lesson for all the future presidents to learn and make the nation prepared for any pandemic.