It's been a weird year for most of us, though perhaps strangest for one man at the forefront of Outgoing President Donald Trump's failing ploy to remain in the White House. On Sunday, Trump announced via Twitter that his long-time friend and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani had tested positive for COVID-19. “@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus,” Trump wrote. “Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!” Giuliani later confirmed the announcement via Twitter as well, writing, “Thank you all to my friends and followers for all the prayers and kind wishes. I’m getting great care and feeling good. Recovering quickly and keeping up with everything.”
Giuliani’s COVID-19 diagnosis bookends a tumultuous and, let’s face it, downright humiliating year for the former New York City mayor. At one time, in the aftermath of September 11 and the palpable fear that followed, Giuliani was a beloved political figure (to those who were willing to overlook his racist policies), even hailed as “America’s mayor.” Now, the country is laughing at the 76-year-old as he seemingly decomposes in real time — the human equivalent of a car crash you can’t bring yourself to ignore.
Of course, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to feel any amount of empathy for the conspiracy-spewing lawyer when he’s doing this all to himself, and to the potential danger and detriment of those around him. If an elderly man’s hair dye was running down the side of his face during a televised press conference, or he was caught audibly farting during state senate hearings, or he was seen blowing his nose and wiping the contents all over his face and mouth, most would grow concerned of his cognitive or physical abilities — until they remember that the same elderly man is traveling all over the United States sans mask or social distancing during a deadly pandemic so he can work to overturn a national election.
What is perhaps most concerning is Giuliani's packed itinerary the week leading up to Trump announcing he had COVID-19. The Thursday before Giuliani’s diagnosis was reported, he attended a hearing in Georgia without a mask. Twenty-four hours prior, he was in Michigan, also without a mask. During that same hearing in Michigan, he actually asked a witness to remove their mask as well. He has been seen on television multiple times shaking hands with supporters and hugging friends and colleagues — and even whispering to and shushing one woman we've come to know as Conspiracy Karen, the Trump team's "star" witness in Michigan. And although the former mayor was repeatedly exposed to the virus via other people in Trump’s orbit who have also tested COVID-19 positive, he refused to follow CDC guidelines and self-quarantine.
As Dr. Megan Ranney, a practicing emergency physician and researcher, told CNN, “We know that the two days before someone develops symptoms, before they test positive, are the time when they’re most infectious. So Giuliani has not just exposed himself and caught COVID, but he has potentially exposed hundreds and hundreds of Trump supporters to the virus during his most infectious phase.”
So while Giuliani is certainly not garnering much sympathy online, and it is objectively hilarious that he continues to humiliate himself at hearings and press conferences staged outside of landscaping companies sandwiched between adult film stores and crematoriums, what we’re witnessing in real time is also incredibly dangerous. Because no matter how much Rudy falls apart, he will have access to top-of-the-line health care — much like the care he is receiving this very minute. The hundreds of people he has potentially endangered as a result of his callous indifference and recklessness, do not.