President Donald Trump exits Marine One while arriving to Walter...

President Donald Trump exits Marine One while arriving to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday. Trump will be treated for COVID-19 after being in isolation at the White House since his diagnosis, which he announced after one of his closest aides had tested positive for coronavirus infection. Credit: Bloomberg/Oliver Contreras

The sight of President Donald Trump walking to the Marine One helicopter to go to Walter Reed hospital for treatment of the coronavirus punctuated an extraordinary Friday that has left the nation on high alert. The president and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus Thursday night; we wish them well and hope for their full and speedy recovery.

It's impossible to know how events will proceed and who else in the top echelons of government will test positive in the days ahead, given the wide circle of people in contact with the president and with those who attended a White House ceremony last week. The revelation that Hope Hicks, a close adviser to the president, tested positive led to more advanced diagnostic tests for Trump and the first lady. It's astonishing that these more precise tests were not already being used to monitor the president's health. Scientific research and the advice of our medical experts cannot be ignored.

At a time like this, the White House — not known for being forthcoming or truthful — must be more transparent with the public about the president's condition, especially since Trump is now at Walter Reed. We need to hear from his doctor about his fever, oxygen levels and other vital signs, and about the experimental antibody cocktail he was given. Information is critical in a crisis.

At the very least, the fact that the most protected person in the world with access to the best health care is now infected with the coronavirus should be a screaming warning siren to all of us: COVID-19 is real and it is dangerous, its end is not in sight and it is not under control. We really do need to wear masks, a point White House staffers seemed finally to get on Friday. We really do need to keep our distance from one another, follow other precautions recommended by experts, and let science be our guide. And local governments must aggressively crack down on communities and places recklessly flouting this advice.

As Trump recovers, that needs to be his message, too.

— The editorial board

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