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What older voters make of Trump Covid story

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

With a month to go before the presidential election, voters around the US are digesting the news that President Donald Trump is infected with Covid-19.

Mr Trump is currently experiencing mild symptoms - but aged 74 and within the clinical definition of obesity, he has risk factors that raise his chance of having a severe reaction.

We asked some older members of the BBC voter panel how they felt when they heard the news.

Mark Falbo is a retired higher education administrator who recently moved to Windham, Maine. He is a Democrat voting for Joe Biden.

I am very concerned when anyone gets a diagnosis of being Covid positive - being someone my age and my size, I know how bad that can be for them, so I'm hoping that the president and first lady, and all those who may have been exposed, will recover well.

I'm also hoping that it will create an area of seriousness around the president about this, because this still is a very dangerous situation and hopefully [this will be] his way of having to learn how leaders need to respond to threats to their population.

I don't think he underestimated the crisis - it's pretty clear that he was aware of the threat. I personally think he mismanaged. And I think that's been a huge disservice to not simply Americans, but to the world.

Here in Maine, we are pretty sensitive about Covid-19 and I'm fortunate to be in a state where the governor and our CDC director has taken this very seriously, with the exception of some silly activities by a few families.

Laura Powers is a materials scientist from Wilmot, Wisconsin. She identifies as Independent and will vote for Joe Biden.

When I woke up this morning and listened to the news, and heard that he had tested positive, my first thought was that maybe this is a wake-up call to his followers who think that this is all a hoax.

My second thought was that unless he has symptoms that are a little more severe - and I don't wish that on anyone including him and Melania - he's going to pull out and broadcast to his followers that Covid-19 is nothing to worry about, and even at his age he got through it.

I have been extremely careful and I do take the health situation very seriously. I don't have underlying conditions but I know many people who do. I worry about people who are not, and I think that this will be a wake-up call. But as I said, I think that if [Trump has only a mild case], he will convince his followers that Covid has been blown out of proportion by the media.

Kathleen McClellan from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, is a Republican voting for Donald Trump.

I'm very sorry that [Donald and Melania Trump] caught the infection. I hope they do well. But my brother also caught it and he said he's had flus that felt worse. So, I know that it varies quite a bit. But I think that's just the way a virus works - it has to infect a certain number of people before it's going to go away.

I don't think he's underestimated the crisis. I think he's in a position where he has seen people die, but he has a different philosophy, where you push forward. It's an individual decision for each person and I don't think anybody really knows that much about the virus. But it seems like at this point in time we may need to just get on with our lives, protect people who are especially vulnerable.

It's just a reminder that [Covid-19] is not something anyone should take for granted. But you can't be paranoid. It's not like back in April, when a complete shutdown made sense because we didn't know what we were dealing with.

Eric Scholl, 65, is a media coordinator from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He voted for Trump in 2016, but will vote for Joe Biden this year.

Covid is not a Republican issue, it's not a United States issue, it's a global health issue. Unfortunately, and I do mean very unfortunately, the president never [listened to] the medical experts, let alone the fact that he totally blew off first protecting the country. So, it's sad - I'm just very sad for him and his wife and I hope they recover, but that's not gonna change who I vote for.

I respect that there will be a small percentage [of the population] that will be more proactive in protecting themselves [after the president got the virus]. But here where I live in Oklahoma, the attitude is "Hey I'm bulletproof. It's not going to affect me."

The president has greatly underestimated the power of Covid-19.

Jim Hurson from the San Francisco Bay Area in California is a Republican voting for Donald Trump.

My first reaction was, obviously, I thought it's very unfortunate. My second reaction is wondering what his opposition is going to do, to try and leverage this into making him look bad again. I think for sure they will play a game of "we told you so".

We have to remember that we have the benefit of hindsight.

If you listen to purely health oriented people, they want to make things as safe as they can from the standpoint of virology. But the president also has to deal with the consequences of disastrous economic fallout, what are the mental health problems of sequestering people in their homes... what is the society as a whole going to suffer from, and the government spending money that it frankly does not have?

It's an incredibly complicated situation when you look at it from a national standpoint. Given that, I don't think anybody could have done any better.

If you don't assume that the government can solve all of this, and you look at individuals and say how they are behaving, we're all going through this nicely.

Additional reporting by Silvia Martelli.

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