When I first heard President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, I thought, “Wow, maybe now he’ll finally start to take the pandemic seriously. Maybe he’ll actually encourage his vehement supporters to wear masks, and stop spewing lies about the virus.”
I should have known better.
It is undeniable that Trump has done a poor job handling the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. From holding massive “mask-optional” rallies to neglecting to address the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators to suggesting people inject bleach into themselves, he has clearly done much more harm than good.
Recently, Trump tested positive for COVID-19, similar to other world leaders who did not take the pandemic seriously. I thought perhaps living through that experience would force him to understand that COVID-19 is dangerous and he should follow the guidelines properly. However, this is far from the case.
On Oct. 5, after spending only three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump left to go back to the White House. According to his doctors, his treatment regimen is still ongoing.
“Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs and knowledge,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Oct. 5.
This statement comes from a place of extreme privilege and apathy. To date, in the U.S., the novel coronavirus has killed over 200,000 people. This number does not include what is known as “Post-COVID Syndrome,” which encompasses the lingering effects of COVID-19 in some survivors, like respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Many in this nation, and the world, have struggled with the pandemic, and Trump treats their concerns like they’re nothing.
Of course, he, the president of the U.S., is going to get the best care possible. The same cannot be said for millions of other Americans who do not have adequate access to healthcare and of course are not in comparable positions of power. Instead of recognizing his privilege, unsurprisingly, Trump attributed the improvement in his health to the nature of the coronavirus. He cannot and will not understand the virus is dangerous and should be something he takes seriously.
Similar to Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year. Before contracting the virus, Bolsonaro, namely, referred to the coronavirus as a “little flu” and supported the idea of using hydroxychloroquine as a cure. After recovering, there was little to no change in how Johnson and Bolsonaro handled the pandemic in their respective nations. Although Johnson at first seemed humbled by his experience, the positive cases in the U.K. have been rising. Brazil is currently reporting over 145,000 deaths — second behind the U.S.
It was overly optimistic and idealistic for me to think Trump would have changed his attitude toward COVID-19 after falling sick. His privilege and incompetence are preventing him from seeing what should be clear — people are dying and the pandemic is something he cannot brush off.
Instead of taking the pandemic seriously, he continues to spread misinformation about COVID-19. On Tuesday, Facebook removed a post in which Trump compared the flu to COVID-19. Trump posted the same message on Twitter, which now has a disclaimer stating the post violated Twitter rules regarding spreading harmful information about COVID-19.
“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have to learn to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 6.
Clearly, this information is false for many reasons. In brief: the flu vaccine does reduce rates and severity of infection, not everyone receives or can receive the flu vaccine, there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, the fatality rate — which takes into account the number of people affected versus number of deaths — is a more accurate measure to consider than the sheer number of deaths, the fatality rate of COVID-19 is higher than the flu and Trump does not take Post-COVID Syndrome into account at all. People should not heed his words.
At this point during the pandemic, it is horrifying that Trump is still majorly influencing many people’s attitudes and thoughts about the pandemic. Despite testing positive for COVID-19, Trump still refuses to take the pandemic seriously.
Despite Trump’s words and his attitude, we as a population must keep trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This can be done by wearing masks, social distancing and practicing good hygiene. In addition, it is best to get information from trustworthy sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We must continue with all these practices in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.