SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The confusion and panic of what those in the White House may be feeling at this very moment are familiar for Doug Elmets, an assistant press secretary to former President Ronald Reagan when he was shot in 1981.

Doug Elmets with President Ronald Reagan

“You had no idea what is going on. It gave this anxiety to the people who worked there and the entire country,” Elmets said. “I think the same thing is true for what is happening to president trump. There is this unsurety of what his status is.”

President Donald Trump’s contraction of COVID-19 is the most serious health crisis facing a president since Reagan. Elmets said he believes a transfer of power letter could already be in the works out of an abundance of caution.

“I’m sure some letter has been discussed, has been drafted, is prepared for the president to sign. But that is not something they want to discuss right now,” he said. “They do not want to cause anxiety when maybe anxiety is not necessary, but you can guarantee the whole system is in place for [a] transfer of power if it is necessary.”

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Though the Trump administration could be tight-lipped on details, Elmets – who spent 10 years at the White House – said he believes Trump’s team should be vocal on one point.

“The most important thing is to give the country and the world the confidence that the president is going to be OK,” Elmets said. “Without that, it is going to cause the stock market to spiral, it’s going to cause allies anxiety, it’s going to cause our detractors across the world a lot of anxiety as well.”

While it is not a gunshot wound the president is being treated for, Elmets said the complexity of the coronavirus presents a unique problem for the Trump administration.

“The number of people who have been around and exposed to the president and other people could easily be infected. That is frightening because we don’t want to disable the American government,” he said.