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Graphic shows history of U.S. presidential illness and death.


Illness and death in the Oval Office

By Duncan Mil

October 2, 2020 - U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Under the 25th Amendment, a medically incapacitated president has the option of temporarily transferring power to the vice president. He can reclaim his authority whenever he deems himself fit for duty.

Since 1967, U.S. presidents have taken advantage of the 25th only three times. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan underwent a colonoscopy and briefly turned over power to Vice President George Bush. President George W. Bush invoked the Amendment twice in temporarily turning over power to Vice President Dick Cheney during colonoscopies in 2002 and 2007.

Presidents that have fallen seriously ill while in office, include George Washington, who was feared close to death amid an influenza epidemic during his second year in office, while Woodrow Wilson became sick in 1919 while negotiating the treaty of Versailles following World War One. As many as 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic. Wilson died following a debilitating stroke in 1924.

Four presidents have died in office of natural causes: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack in his first term and a stroke in his second.

Four others were assassinated in office: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy.

PUBLISHED: 02/10/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press