CNN’s Anderson Cooper has condemned Trump’s “recklessness” while carrying a deadly disease, pointing out that HIV positive people can be jailed for the same offence.
The president remains evasive about when he first tested positive for COVID-19, raising questions about how many people he might have knowingly exposed.
The White House has declined to confirm when and how Trump was tested before the presidential debate with Joe Biden, as well as several preceding campaign events.
“[Trump] is refusing to allow his doctor to say when his last negative test was. He’s covering up the history of this,” Anderson Cooper said on Wednesday (October 7).
“He very well may have stood one the stage, knowingly positive with COVID, spewing and yelling at Joe Biden six feet away.”
If that’s the case, Trump would have committed a shocking act of endangerment – something that is considered a serious offence for HIV positive people.
“There are gay people in this country who are HIV positive, and in some states they can be arrested if they don’t inform a sexual partner that they are HIV positive,” Cooper said, “even though if they are on medication it’s absolutely zero threat to any sexual partner – none, if they’re on medication. They cannot transmit the virus.”
He continued: “They can be sent to jail because of that. Donald Trump is out there possibly infecting people, he could have infected Joe Biden on stage.”
A total of 37 US states have laws that criminalise HIV exposure. 21 of those require people with HIV who are aware of their status to disclose it to their to sexual partners, and 12 states require disclosure to needle-sharing partners.
The punishments for violating these laws vary from state to state, but sentences can range from 1-5 years to life imprisonment.
Meanwhile, at least 22 people in Trump’s inner circle have tested positive, and it’s likely that more will follow as the president returns to the office even as he still carries the virus.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, an individual should quarantine for 14 days if exposed to someone infected with the virus within six feet for more than 15 minutes.
“Imagine all the individuals that the president was exposed to in that time period,” Dr Leana Wen, a George Washington University public health expert told ABC News.
“By now, all those individuals have been exposed to dozens, maybe hundreds of others,” she added. “At this point, we could be looking at third generation spread all across the country.”