President Donald Trump was admitted to the Walter Reed Medical Center Friday following recommendations from his physician, Dr. Sean Conley. This development came just 24 hours after the president announced both himself and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
Trump now refers to the virus as COVID-19 rather than the “Wuhan virus” and other variations. Suddenly, members of the Republican Party demand your unrequited empathy and ask you to realize the severity of COVID-19.
Many Americans do not feel compelled to express sympathy for the president and his party who exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic by ignoring its existence as a legitimate threat while also repeatedly putting their own health at risk.
During the first presidential debate Tuesday, Trump commented on COVID-19 and masks.
“I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said when referencing his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Aside from the president trivializing preventive measures to fight the coronavirus that has so far taken the lives of more than 200,000 Americans and 1,000,000 people worldwide, the insult was in poor taste.
It is clear Trump tried to emasculate Biden because he took preventive measures against COVID-19. The debate was about policy as much as it was about establishing masculinity in a way similar to teenage boys comparing their manhood in the locker room. Trump attempted to make Biden out to be less of a man and a coward for wearing a mask.
Unsurprisingly and in a bout of dramatic irony, Trump tested positive for COVID-19 just a few days later. Although he claims to wear a mask when necessary, it seems the president did not deem most of his public events this year as appropriate occasions. Below are Trump’s most significant presidential trips, defined as an instance where Trump encountered more than 20 individuals, following his month-long travel hiatus in April.
Here are a few takeaways. First, Trump only wore a mask four times in total or about 9% of the time. Second, Trump’s cumulative rally attendance surpassed 50,000 people. This figure does not account for the 10 rallies where attendance was not directly reported but was thought to surpass 1,000 attendees each time or instances where a Trump campaign stop was not classified as a rally explicitly. Third, while masks were available at all of the president’s official rallies, reports detail that supporters rarely wore a mask and were often discouraged from doing so by the president’s remarks.
The timeline does not detail events hosted by the White House, primarily the Rose Garden event held a little over a week ago to formally nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. So far, eight attendees have tested positive for COVID-19. Very few wore masks and social distancing guidelines were disregarded. Other similar events include the Middle East peace deal signing ceremony and Trump’s recent debate preparation.
It is difficult to feel sympathy for a man directly responsible for dismissing early warnings of COVID-19. Trump undermined the credibility of public health officials by denying the science behind the coronavirus and mocking the use of masks. He ignored public health guidelines and held events with utter disregard for local restrictions. He downplayed the severity of COVID-19 and neglected his own health while assuming the most powerful office in the world.
Trump’s diagnosis is a form of punishment in and of itself. However, it will never allow him to feel the pain of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who watched their loved ones die in the hallways of overcrowded hospitals, heard their mother was loaded onto a freezer truck or said goodbye to their grandfather over a cell phone. Instead, the president will rest comfortably in his six-room suite at Walter Reed Medical Center and receive arguably the best care in the world executed by a team of more than 14 physicians and nurses.
Trump is now facing the consequences of his own inaction. Acknowledging this fact does not require you to actively wish him ill. Rather, it allows you to empathize with every American held captive by the debilitating jaws of COVID-19 while the lifeguard watched from a distance.
Katelyn Balakir (she/her) is a junior studying policy analysis and world political systems. She is a member of Indiana Model United Nations.
Daelynn Moore (she/her) is a senior studying animal behavior and minoring in psychology, environmental science and biology. Don't be fooled by her major, her post undergraduate goals are to become a therapist.