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“Don’t let it dominate your life.”: President Trump’s Volatile Relationship with COVID-19

On October 2, 2020 President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. The couple joins the ranks of nearly 8 million Americans who have tested positive for the virus since it first showed up in the states in March. The Trumps, however, were fortunate not to become a part of a much more morbid statistic, that of the 218,174 Americans that have died from the novel coronavirus this year, as of October 12, 2020.

Precautionary measures were taken for the health of the president, as he was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center following his positive diagnosis. His symptoms included fatigue and mild shortness of breath. Trump was given the steroid dexamethasone as well as the antiviral drug remdesivir, which his doctors described were provided to him as precautionary measures against the virus.

The president spent his time at Walter Reed staging photo shoots of himself signing blank sheets of paper in his private hospital suite without a mask on, as well as packing into a Secret Service car with three people while highly contagious, so that he could wave to his supporters who had gathered outside. Upon his departure from Walter Reed three days later on October 5th, Trump tweeted, “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! 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!” Independent fact checkers of the Tweet acknowledge that both remdesivir and dexamethasone were developed long before Trump came into office and are not cures for COVID-19.

As for the virus dominating the lives of Americans, Trump’s Tweet comes over six months late. Since the spread of COVID-19 began in the United States in March, American life has been anything but normal. Schools across the country have adopted online learning as a primary method of education, businesses have been shut down for months and are only able to reopen in limited capacities, and large gatherings of any type have been completely suspended. A majority of countries have implemented travel restrictions against the United States due to its high number of cases, including Canada and the Schengen Area of Europe.

Trump’s Tweet from Walter Reed is not the first time he has attempted to downplay the coronavirus. In a released interview from February 7th with Bob Woodward, President Trump admitted to speaking with Chinese president Xi Jinping about its lethality. Trump was made aware that COVID-19 is much more deadly than the common flu and that it can spread through the air, making it tricky to contain. In a follow-up interview on March 19th, Trump admitted to Woodward, “I wanted to play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.” Over half a year later, Trump is still downplaying the devastating impacts of COVID-19, even after personally contracting the virus.

The drastic changes that have been imposed on Americans are the result of policies implemented by the Center for Disease Control, the United States primary federal agency for preventing the spread of disease. Some of these policies include wearing masks at all times in public and maintaining six feet of social distancing from other people. The coronavirus dominates American lives because the policies necessary to prevent it are required to keep individuals, families, and communities safe. If Americans stop letting COVID-19 dominate their lives, they become complicit in letting it take the lives of those who are immunocompromised such as the sick and elderly. It is now October and the coronavirus continues to dominate the lives of all Americans, including over 200,000 in the most fatal way possible.