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Trump aide Hope Hicks was in Presidential Debate audience, 'likely positive and unmasked'

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi discuss President Trump’s COVID-19 recovery with Yahoo Medical Contributor, Dr. Dara Kass.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The global stock markets have been thrown for a loop after President Trump announced via Twitter that he and his First Lady Melania trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. Now, we do want to add that both Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have tested negative for the virus.

And just moments ago, we had former Vice President Joe Biden tweet, "Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family." Of course, Biden and his camp were exposed to President Trump and his camp during the debate this past week. I would imagine they're getting tested as well. No word from them in terms of test results.

Want to turn now to Dr. Dara Kass, Yahoo Medical Contributor and Columbia University Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Kass, lots to get to here this morning, but first, let's start with President Trump. Is he one of those cases where he's asymptomatic? Or are we hearing that he actually does have some symptoms?

DARA KASS: So I'm actually hearing, actually from new reporting just in the last half hour, that he is-- he is displaying mild symptoms of this virus, remembering that it is just hours into him knowing he's positive, and he was tested based on contact tracing, which meant that he was tested frequently and early. But the fact is is that it's very early in his course, and whether or not he is going to develop any symptoms or serious symptoms is still very much to be determined.

BRIAN SOZZI: Dr. Kass, talk us-- talk to us about the recovery process. So after the two-week period, what should someone of President Trump's age expect?

DARA KASS: So actually, we hope that President Trump will recover fully from this virus, remembering that over 7 million Americans have had this virus, and many of them have what we call long-hauler symptoms, continued symptoms of shortness of breath, of, you know, maybe blood clots, or kidney damage, or other foggy thinking. There's a lot of neurological complications of this virus. So we don't know what's going to happen in the acute phase, the phase that he is infected and isolated, or what the recovery would look like.

And that's true for the first lady. It's true for Hope Hicks. This virus has an unpredictable course. And a patient like President Trump who's elderly, and obese, and male is actually at high risk for acute complications and long-term complications.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Dr. Kass, what does this mean for the dozens of people who have come in contact with the president and his team just in the past few days? When you look at the rules of contact tracing, I mean, he held a debate. He had a fundraiser recently. Should all of those people be quarantining right now as they await test results?

DARA KASS: So that's actually a really important point that I think needs to be covered a lot, because it reminds us that even if you are negative or until you find out you're positive what you do in that interim period of time is what determines how many people in your life are affected by your positive diagnosis. And so we don't know that it's only dozens of people. It could be hundreds of people because of the entire entourage that travels with the president.

If they were within six feet of the president, unmasked for over 15 minutes, they are at risk and need to be quarantined for 14 days, regardless of negative tests. And that could extend as far as the cabinet. It could extend to senators. It could even extend as far as the Supreme Court nominee. We just don't know how many people were in contact with the president or any other positive patients at this point.

BRIAN SOZZI: Dr. Kass, it sounds as if the debate may ultimately be one of those super-spreader events?

DARA KASS: It is possible. Remember that the president's family was at the debate, Hope Hicks was in the audience, likely positive and unmasked. And the venue had a rule about mask wearing that the family of the president violated. In fact, they were even approached to put masks on and then they somehow did not. So I think that everybody at the venue may be concerned, depending on if they were in close proximity of the president or members of his family, and that does include, unfortunately, the vice president, his team, and potentially Chris Wallace.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Dr. Kass, if you were the president's doctor, would you recommend he not participate in the next debate, which is supposed to be October 15?

DARA KASS: So first and foremost, if I was the president's doctor I would tell him to rest. It is really important for elderly patients who have this virus to take care of themselves, first and foremost, and so he should be isolated. There should be minimal contact with the president for anybody that doesn't have to take care of him. His wife, obviously, is positive as well, so she can be around him.

But making sure that he takes care of himself in the next 10 to 14 days, looking for symptoms and making sure that he acknowledges any symptoms that he's having. After that period of time, if he is symptom-free after 10 days without a fever for more than 24 hours, he can go back out into the regular world, but again, with a mask on, staying distant, remembering that he has to keep protecting other people from him and himself from other people. And unfortunately, that's not how he was behaving before this.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, that's important, right, not just about protecting ourselves, but all the people around us. Dr. Dara Kass, thank you.

DARA KASS: Thank you.