Superspreader par excellence
By Luis H. Francia
INQUIRER.NET U.S. Bureau
October 6, 2020 at 9:29 am
President Donald Trump arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, on Marine One helicopter after he tested positive for Covid-19. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is at second from left. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Donald Trump arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, on Marine One helicopter after he tested positive for Covid-19. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is at second from left. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

NEW YORKMe Tarzan, you Jane.

Or, in this case, Joe.

That essentially is how President Trump conducted himself in the train wreck of a first presidential debate in Cleveland. All but thumping his chest and perhaps picturing himself in a loincloth and letting out a jungle yell as he swings from an imaginary vine, Trump boasted, “I don’t wear masks like him,’’ indicating Joseph Biden, the former vice-president. “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.”

Those of his supporters who were watching must have cheered lustily, particularly the gun-toting, maskless white supremacists, proud of their candidate for being a manly man, and hooting at Biden, who in their estimation would certainly be a girly man.

And they must have laughed even more lustily when the Con Man-in-Chief, pressured into condemning their racism, refused to do so. None prouder than the Proud Boys, when he said for them to “stand back and stand by.”

Who’s laughing now?

What can they say, those who have for months echoed Trump’s dismissive attitude towards COVID-19? What rationale can they offer for imitating his reckless behavior not only by going maskless in public but disparaging those who do and often enough refusing to heed directives to don a mask when in a store or restaurant, even to the point of violent reaction?

What of the hapless victims who believed his assurances, that all this was going away, disappear, and therefore not to worry? That by injecting bleach, the virus would be killed in an instant?

Has he mourned their shuffling off of their mortal coils? Felt the pain of irretrievable loss of a loved parent, child, grandparent, aunt or uncle?

Why is it so damn hard to put on a face mask when it has been proven to help the spread of this silent contagion that doesn’t care about your politics? It wants your body, your breath, every fiber of your being, so it can continue to flourish. COVID-19 is an assassin, a killer that has feasted on more than 210,000 people living in the United States—almost 20 percent of the total of global fatalities, even though this country has only three percent of the world’s population.

At the debate hall, the Trump family disdained the requirement that they wear masks. No surprise there, for their hearts—and wallets—belong to Daddy. In contrast, Biden’s family did.

Even though Hope Hicks, his adviser, showed symptoms on Wednesday, Trump, knowing this and in all likelihood aware that he himself was infected, proceeded to a fundraiser in New Jersey,  on Thursday, where once again he did not wear a mask and interacted with attendees. And on Friday evening, October 2, he was hospitalized. On his insistence on Sunday, October 4,  he was driven around the Walter Reed hospital grounds in an SUV—a person infected with the virus—accompanied by his Secret Service detail, who were thus exposed to the virus. And on Monday, October 5, he returned to the White House, even though, according to his doctors, he’s not out of the woods yet, meaning he is still infected and can further spread it at the white House, that is now something of an epicenter.

He’s behaved, as he has always behaved, in a manner that elevates his personal fortunes (and misfortunes, as it turns out) above that of the nation he has a sworn duty to protect. To quote the Bard, this “mountain of mad flesh, light of brain” has failed miserably.  That he who taunted the virus to come get ‘im has now been got is poetic justice.

Given that he is in a high-risk age group and that he is obese, this match-up with COVID-19 is stacked in favor of the former. Fortunately for the reckless orange man, it is likely that he will survive this bout with the virus, as he has excellent health care, that you and I are paying for, which means that, après COVID-19, he will be considered to have a pre-existing condition. Were he to apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, he could not be denied coverage. Yet, he and his Republican enablers, equally reckless and soulless, keep trying to repeal the law and with it the mandate protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

The royal mess the whole country is in isn’t entirely due to Trump’s culpability but can be laid as well at the feet of the spineless, ethically challenged Republican Party. I cannot recall any of the GOP leaders—not the hypocritical senators McConnell and Graham—criticizing Trump’s ineffectual response.

The media writes about superspreader events, and well they should, such as the Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma—Herman Cain, Trump’s ally and in attendance, died not long after—and the recent Rose Garden ceremony honoring Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Such events are however not the superspreader.

The real superspreader par excellence is the man who craved these public displays of bogus fearlessness: Donald J. Trump. This is the only time I will use such a superlative in conjunction with his name.   Copyright L.H. Francia 2020

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