President Trump is expected to travel to Doral, Florida, later this week, landing squarely in the center of a coronavirus hotspot and potentially taxing the already-limited local health resources.
Despite the raging coronavirus pandemic, Trump will turn his attention Friday to the issue of drug trafficking in South America, visiting US Southern Command for a briefing, a White House official confirmed to CNN. The trip was first reported by Politico.
Doral, where US Southern Command is located, is just under two miles from the President’s golf club. But it is also in Miami-Dade County, which is currently experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.
Miami-Dade County has seen a 90% increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being hospitalized in the past 13 days, according to the latest data released by Miami-Dade County Government.
It has also seen a staggering increase in the number of ICU beds being used (86%) and in the use of ventilators (127%). The 14-day average positivity rate in Miami-Dade County is 23%, according to data released by county government.
Remember: A presidential visit – no matter who is in office – requires a significant amount of resources, with White House officials, White House Medical Unit representatives, and US Secret Service agents traveling in advance of the president to coordinate with local officials on the ground.
Here are some steps that are taken in preparation of a trip of this nature:
- There is an extensive amount of medical preparation involved each time a president travels, with plans in place for the worst case scenario.
- There is always a primary hospital, usually designated by the White House Medical Unit ahead of a trip.
- There is “an in-depth, comprehensive survey of that hospital” for its medical capabilities, former Secret Service Agent Jonathan Wackrow, a CNN contributor, said.
- The White House Medical Unit and Secret Service will assess the hospital and coordinate logistics with staff to be prepared for any type of medical emergency.
- They will also install secure communications such that agents traveling on the ground can quickly be in touch with the hospital, where an agent is always in place.
- Transportation routes and airlift options are planned and tested in advance
- Additionally, there are “overflight hospitals” designated ahead of a visit, multiple hospitals where Air Force One could quickly land in the event of a medical emergency on its route.
- There’s also a press component involved – in the event of a transfer of power under the 25th Amendment, there are plans for a place for a press conference and where the transfer of government would take place.
There is usually a trauma bay reserved for the President, but it’s possible that one is just designated rather than taken out of commission when a hospital is particularly taxed.
“We’re not going to displace any medical care to be on standby for the President, but if he goes there, there will be a significant impact to the hospital,” Wackrow said.
With additional reporting from Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt