At the height of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, days before the World Health Organization declared it an international public health emergency, Donald Trump tweeted: “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!”
“This framework sees infected persons as an enemy to be contained and avoided rather than as people who need treatment,” the global health researcher Jeremy Youde wrote in response.
That is a worrying framework, especially considering that Trump will almost certainly face another epidemic during his presidency. If not Ebola, if not Zika, then something else. As my colleague Ed Yong wrote in his examination of how a pandemic might play out under the Trump administration: “Outbreaks of disease are among the ultimate tests for any leader who wants to play on the global stage. They demand diplomacy, decisiveness, leadership, humility, and expertise—and they quickly unearth any lack of the same.”
On Sunday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg read Trump’s Ebola tweet to Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. In the case of another Ebola outbreak, Goldberg asked, would Price recommend to the president that the U.S. allow infected health workers back into the country?