The Globe’s Point: Americans deserve full transparency about President Trump’s condition

We are at a critical juncture as a country, pioneers.


The President of the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus. So has his First Lady. And his press secretary. And his campaign manager. The list goes on.


As many pundits and politicians have already pointed out, it is a sobering moment, truthfully one of many during the pandemic, reminding us that anyone is susceptible to the virus. Or perhaps it would be more sobering if we were not so frustrated trying to find the answers to the president’s condition.


In initial press briefings, Dr. Sean Conley, Mr. Trump’s physician, was picturesque about the president’s health status, despite Trump’s added risk factors and the fact that he had to be airlifted to Reed Medical Center. Sources within Trump’s own circle had to privately disclose to the press that the president required oxygen twice during the weekend and that doctors considered his vitals to be concerning at points. Dr. Conley continued not to release certain details about Mr. Trump’s lungs or when he last tested negative for the virus, citing HIPAA.


The lack of transparency surrounding the president’s condition, a matter of national security, is not only irritating—it is outright dangerous. Public faith in institutions and media outlets continues to crumble, and, as long as the White House continues being elusive about confirming information to the public and reporters, some people are beginning to doubt what they are hearing.


On Twitter, users voiced a range of unconfirmed theories, from the president is actually dying to the president does not have coronavirus at all and is doing this as a political stunt. More conspiracy theories like these will likely arise during the next two weeks since a sizable group of Americans believe what they are getting is not the full truth.


The White House has an unfortunate legacy of downplaying presidents’ health statuses in the past as well. But this is not 1933, when the White House was concealing from the public and the press that then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down due to polio. And it is not 1919, when the White House tried to hide the fact that then President Woodrow Wilson had suffered a stroke. The absence of technology back then made those indiscretions possible. It is 2020, and we expect more and we expect better from our elected officials and their aides. When the President of the United States is stricken with a deadly virus, we should be fully aware of his health status every step of the way.


The absence of knowledge gives way to mistrust, fear and belief in misinformation. This would be bad in any year, but in an election year, the ramifications could be dire.


The Globe stands for full transparency, and we hope, for the sake of the American public, that we start receiving complete information from the White House soon.