On Friday, news broke that Donald Trump Jr. (informally known as U.S. President Trump's second-favourite son) tested positive for COVID-19 — and he is now literally following in his father’s footsteps. Quarantining and taking full advantage of his now-ample free time by tweeting asinine statements and debunked conspiracy theories, Don Jr.’s more-deranged-than-usual post-diagnosis antics have caused many to consider the possible effect COVID-19 has on brain functions. (To be fair, there’s little evidence to suggest he had much function in that region to begin with.)
A spokesperson for the president’s eldest son confirmed in a statement to CNN that Don Jr. “tested positive at the start of the week and has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result.” Later that same day, Don Jr. posted a video to Instagram saying, “apparently I got the ‘rona’ before questioning the legitimacy of the test results because, as he sees it, it’s “odd” he’s “totally asymptomatic.” (Several studies have shown that people can test positive for COVID-19 but never experience any symptoms.)
While he is no stranger to acting erratic and downright strange on the public stage, Don Jr.'s reaction to his 'rona' diagnosis has been odd — even by Trump family standards: He liked every single tweet from news sources reporting on his COVID-19 diagnosis. Then, he claimed he specifically targeted “left wing publications” so he can “read through the comments to see all the tolerance from those who are preaching unity.”
And on Monday, Jr. shared a mind-numbingly stupid comment about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, tweeting, “Asking for a friend: If you burn your house down after having more than six people over for Thanksgiving can that be considered a ‘peaceful protest’ rather than an illegal gathering? #Thanksgiving.” To the surprise of no one, the jokes were immediate.
“Asking for a friend: How do you test positive for a Hoax?” one person tweeted. “Would have been bigger news if Donald Trump Jr. tested positive for brain cells,” tweeted another. Others joked about Don Jr.’s alleged cocaine use (hardly a joke, considering COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have fueled an increase in drug and alcohol dependency), tweeting “The most common symptom after fever is fatigue. What’s the best medicine for fatigue? Cocaine!”
While I’m all for shamelessly mocking a member of the Trump family that, make no mistake, deserves it — even Don Jr. acknowledged that he’s an online bully getting what he deserves when he addressed his diagnosis: “God knows I troll, and do my fair share of it, so I guess it comes back to me, in time, as well. That’s the game.”
But all joking aside, COVID-19 does impact brain functionality, both in the short and long term. A common symptom, losing the ability to smell and taste, suggests that the virus attacks the nervous system. A case study out of France found that 67% of patients had neurological problems as a result of contracting COVID-19, and another study conducted by the University of Liverpool found that everything from severe confusion to inflammation of the brain can be a result of COVID-19. Yet another study found that COVID-19 symptoms can and often do include headaches, dizziness, weakness, confusion, eye movement problems, seizures, and paralysis, and that anywhere from 30-50% of COVID-19 patients will experience a range of neurological issues.
So while the jokes do write themselves, COVID-19, the record number of cases, and the rising number of hospitalizations is no laughing matter. Don Jr. didn’t have enough brain power to buck his father’s nonchalant attitude toward the virus and COVID-19 safety measures, so much so that he got sick himself. Here’s hoping he is just...kicked off Twitter.