For President Donald Trump, even contracting COVID-19 becomes political theater, a continuation of the reality show that is his presidency, without caring about the well-being of those around him.
Almost 210,000 persons, a large percentage of them Hispanic and African American, have died in the US from this virus without having the luxury, as Trump does, of receiving preferential treatment in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, thanks to those of us who pay taxes, unlike Trump, and with access to experimental treatments that an ordinary citizen could not afford even if he wanted to.
Ever since Trump’s COVID saga began, the only thing the White House has done is to hide not only the president’s true clinical state, but the dates and how, despite having been exposed to the lethal virus, he continued doing campaign and fundraising events, exposing who knows how many unaware people, who for some reason thought that the president and the White House were immune to the coronavirus.
Trump wanted to evade the topic of COVID and the negligence of his administration in managing the pandemic at all costs, but he ended up infected, such that now he’s looking for ways to use it for political advantage.
In that way Trump, who wants to give the impression that he is invincible, someone that not even COVID can beat, decided to take advantage of his hospital stay. First came the photos of him signing sheets of paper, to pretend that he was working. A strategy that authoritarians often employ when news of their illness, disability, or near death begins to spread like wildfire–something more common in Russia and North Korea than in the United States.
And then, he decides to take a little spin in the hermetically-sealed presidential vehicle, to “greet” his loyal followers who have planted themselves in the hospital surroundings in a show of support. Two secret service agents with masks can be seen from inside the vehicle, and while many say that this is the job of Secret Service agents, transporting the president from Point A to Point B safely, that is their mission when transporting him is necessary. But the joy ride that a COVID-infected Trump took was not necessary. Trump did it only for his ego, to show that he remains standing, in the process exposing those agents and, by extension, their families.
It’s clear that Trump is focused on theatrics because he has been making fun of his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, for months for using a mask. Biden, whom Trump may also have exposed since it’s been revealed that on Tuesday, when the first presidential debate took place, Trump was surely already infected, did not want to use a mask, and neither he nor his family members took a COVID test when they arrive at the debate venue.
Trump has dedicated himself to branding Biden as senile and lacking energy, and has made fun of the Vice President for protecting himself and others using masks.
He also would not have felt good listening to the news coverage that described him as a 74 year-old man, obese and with cardiac conditions that make him among the higher risk groups. Therefore, the demonstration of strength.
That is, this president knew exactly how lethal this virus is and dedicated himself to minimizing it for political-electoral ends. The almost 210,000 deaths have not mattered to him at all. Many of them could have been avoided by taking more restrictive precautionary measures before March, when he became aware that we were confronting a killer virus.
He continued carrying out campaign events and rallies without masks and social distancing, contributing to not stopping the virus. Not only did he and his wife contract it, but so did members of his inner circle of advisors, and who knows about their families and those who attended his rallies.
There are people who have contracted it taking all the precautions and others, like doctors and nurses, who have died carrying out their jobs helping others. Challenging the basic guidance has been an act of arrogance and irresponsibility from this president.
Because what we have seen since Friday is that, even in the face of the virus, there has been no moment of solemnity or self-reflection, nor of seriousness. It has been a spectacle where there has been no transparency with the public, less than a month to the elections. And it has been disrespectful to the tens of thousands who succumbed to the virus and died alone, without shows of support from outside the hospital, nor photo ops, and without the Grade A medical attention that a president, who only wants to challenge his luck, enjoys.
Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor to América’s Voice.
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