On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump tweeted that he will be leaving Walter Reed Medical Center at 6.30pm (ET) after a three-day hospitalisation following testing positive for COVID-19. “Feeling really good!” he wrote. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
While we — as a nation — are beyond the ability to be shocked by anything Trump tweets, it is still dismaying to be reminded that there is seemingly no end to Trump’s cruelty and disregard for human life. Even after he experienced serious symptoms of COVID-19, needing supplemental oxygen and his fever spiking to 39.4 celsius, he shows no concern for the people he has been tasked with protecting. COVID-19 has killed 210,000+ people in the United States, many of whom died either because they did not have access to the medical care they needed, or because they fell for the rampant disinformation, particularly in the form of anti-mask propaganda, from the Trump administration.
Trump’s experience and treatment for the disease were far from typical. Rather than take the 30 minute-drive, he was air-lifted in a helicopter to a world-class hospital with a special Presidential Suite to receive round-the-clock care from top doctors. His doctors threw the “kitchen sink” of medications at him that hardly anyone has been treated with — a fact that concerned medical experts because it suggested his condition was far more grave than the White House let on. He received an experimental antibody drug produced by Regeneron, the antiviral drug remdesivir, and dexamethasone, a steroid typically only recommended for patients with severe and critical cases of COVID. (Important side note: Trump reportedly has ties to Regeneron’s billionaire CEO — which is likely why he’s tweeting about “great drugs & knowledge.”)
Meanwhile, throughout the pandemic, countless other Americans were told not to go to the hospital and even denied tests unless they literally couldn’t breathe. People have died in their homes because hospital beds were too full. The picture has been particularly grim for those who are Black, Latinx, and low-income. In April, a Black man in Detroit said his father went to multiple hospitals with shortness of breath, fever, and fatigue, and was repeatedly turned away, told he has bronchitis. He died at home, and his autopsy showed he had coronavirus. There are an untold number of stories like this, of people who would have lived had the administration done an iota of work to prepare for the onslaught of this pandemic, which they knew about back in December. But according to whistleblower reports, it was Trump himself who derailed the coronavirus task force from taking any meaningful action. Now, people are continuing to die on his watch as he receives top-notch care. Telling them not to be afraid is not only an exercise in ignorance, but immensely cruel.
While enjoying privileges that very few people get, Trump is continuing to behave in a narcissistic and self-serving way. He cares so little about anything but his own image that he reportedly convinced his doctors to let him take a joyride around the hospital on Sunday, with members of the Secret Service accompanying him in the hermetically sealed car as supporters waved flags. It’s hard for many of us to conceive how anybody could do something so thoughtless and dangerous — but he did. It is alarming that a crowd of people cheered him on, and that it didn’t seem to concern them that he is not quarantining when he is in the process of being treated for a deadly virus. It is also alarming that many don’t seem to notice that he is so clearly using his recovery to spread lies about the virus ahead of the election. And it’s especially alarming that by telling people not to be “afraid” of the virus, he is going to continue to encourage negligent behaviour among his supporters that, in turn, infects other people.
He also seems to care little about the fact that many top officials — as well as First Lady Melania Trump — have now tested positive, including former counsellor Kellyanne Conway, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. It’s likely that they all became infected during the celebration of the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on 26th September. There are also many reports of other White House staff testing positive. Not to mention the many people who work for Trump — servers, security, cleaning staff — who were exposed just by doing their jobs, who went home to their parents and grandparents and exposed them. He is, on his own, likely a super-spreader: Reports say that it’s possible Trump could have been exposed to the virus before last Tuesday’s presidential debate, which means he went around infecting hundreds of people before the White House announced he tested positive.
The carefree attitude of his statements betray not only an immense privilege, but a sociopathic lack of concern for anyone but himself. Many are feeling angry, and perhaps betrayed, right now — and that is a completely logical reaction.