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Opinion This is exactly why we need to know the truth about Trump’s health

President Trump announced early on Oct. 2 that he and his wife, Melania, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Amanda Voisard/The Washington Post)

With the news that the president of the United States has been infected by the virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, the consequences of this White House’s propensity to lie take on a new level of seriousness.

Public confidence demands that Americans be given the straight story about President Trump’s condition. This is also a matter of national security, as U.S. allies and adversaries around the world monitor the situation.

Over and over again on issues of Trump’s health, the president’s aides have shown more concern for stroking Trump’s ego and furthering his political agenda than telling the truth.

Full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

Meanwhile, Trump has consistently played down the seriousness of the viral pandemic and promoted risky behaviors such as mass gatherings that have heightened the threat of transmission. Trump has scorned science and lauded quack cures. Since the novel coronavirus began spreading, he has constantly assured the country that the end of the pandemic is in sight.

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As recently as Sept. 21, Trump stood before a packed crowd of supporters in Swanton, Ohio — “mostly maskless” and not adhering to social distancing, according to The Post’s report — and falsely suggested that only older Americans with heart problems and preexisting conditions need to fear the novel coronavirus.

“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. That’s what it really affects,” the president said. “In some states, thousands of people — nobody young. Below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system, who knows? Take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”

Trump is 74 years old and obese, and he has in the past had high cholesterol, all of which means he is at high risk for serious consequences from the coronavirus. The public cannot trust assurances from the same people who claimed — absurdly — that the president’s unscheduled two-hour visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last year was merely “to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam.” They have refused to divulge other details.

Starting right now, Americans must demand briefings from the medical personnel — presumably military doctors — treating the president. The medical team should make public the specifics of Trump’s symptoms, test results, vital signs and his treatment regimen.

As Americans, we should pray that the president has a mild bout with this virus, followed by a speedy recovery. Trump’s credibility, however, is a hopeless case.

Read more:

Leana S. Wen: We should be just as careful about covid-19 in relatives’ homes as we are in grocery stores

Megan McArdle: Biden and Harris are playing a Trumpian game on vaccine safety

Martha E. Pollack and Michael I. Kotlikoff: We run Cornell. Here’s how we’ve kept low covid-19 rates on campus.