Trump tells Americans not to fear virus that already killed 211,000
Trump told Americans not to fear the coronavirus even as it has descended upon his White House, killed 211,000 Americans, and sickened over 7 million. | Photo: AP / Illustration: PW

Visibly struggling to breathe on the balcony of the White House Monday evening, Trump defiantly tore off his mask for a photo-op intended to portray him as a fighter.

Rather than using his hospitalization and his current status as an individual infected with the coronavirus as a teaching moment, the president has decided to continue his approach of aiding and abetting that virus as it rampages across the country, now infecting some 40,000 people a day on average.

As he struggled to get air into his lungs, the president of the United States made a sorry attempt to claim victory over COVID-19 as he entered a White House that is now nothing more than a darkened shell of the place it should be.

Infections among the hundreds of staff who work there continue to claim victim after victim as his doctors refuse to answer important questions about his health, including whether he has COVID-induced pneumonia and when he had the last negative test for the virus before announcing he was infected on Thursday night.

The White House has turned down a CDC offer to do contact tracing and has also decided there will be no tracing of the people in the super-spreader event at the Rose Garden several days ago when the president introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his choice for the Supreme Court.

The White House is also refusing to provide New Jersey officials with a list of attendees at a 200-strong Trump fundraiser held in that state the day he announced his positive status, fueling speculation that he may be concealing his role as a super-spreader.

“Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs and knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago,” Trump declared when he left the Walter Reed Medical Center Monday.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said at a town hall meeting Monday night that he was “not surprised” Trump became infected with the coronavirus, given his refusal to socially distance or wear a mask.

“Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying ‘masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter,’ I think, is responsible for what happens to them,” Biden said at the event in Miami.

Referencing last week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, Biden said it was “a little disconcerting to look out and see his whole section; no one had masks on.” Biden noted that the entire Trump family itself was violating debate protocol agreed upon ahead of time.

Biden said he was concerned about Trump’s continued approach of minimizing the virus.

“I hope no one walks away with the message thinking that it is not a problem—it’s a serious problem,” Biden said, citing the more than 210,000 Americans who have been killed by the virus so far.

Addressing the many anti-maskers in the country, Biden literally begged them to listen to experts: “What is this macho thing, ‘I’m not going to wear a mask?’ What’s the deal here? … Does it hurt you? Be patriotic, for God’s sake.”

A CNN poll taken after Trump was hospitalized and released today had Biden 16 points ahead of Trump nationally. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken after the debate but before Trump was hospitalized had Biden leading by 14 points.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, the mood is worse now than it has ever been. The normal paranoia and fear resulting from Trump’s style of work have reached unprecedented levels with his return.

“Folks are dropping like flies over here,” a White House official told the press. “S–t is very crazy.”

The White House press office was dark and deserted Monday morning, reporters said. Then, later in the day, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany revealed that she had tested positive for the virus. Later, it was two of her aides that joined the list of the infected.

Contaminated workplace: A member of the cleaning staff sprays Press Briefing Room at the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. | Alex Brandon / AP

McEnany and her aides are among at least 17 White House staff members who have tested positive in recent days as the White House itself became an epicenter for a resurging coronavirus outbreak across the United States, where significant increases in infection rates are happening in 30 states.

A nation in shock is not buying the picture Trump is pushing, a portrait of a warrior president battling the virus. Plummeting numbers for him in the polls indicate even some in his base may be deserting the ship.

While still in the hospital, Trump’s handlers portrayed him as hard at work by having him sign blank papers on a desk. Even without close-up cameras, it was clear the papers had nothing on them.

Having demanded his release from Walter Reed, Trump is now receiving care in the White House, which has within it a small hospital capable of providing care that millions of Americans can never hope to receive. He is getting that care free of charge even as his administration continues its push to take health care away from millions by eliminating the Affordable Care Act.

Some of the medicines he is receiving, however, have side effects that can alter brain function and normal responses to a variety of situations. This has raised concerns about the national security implications of the president’s condition.

White House staff are being kept in the dark regarding who among them is becoming infected. They say they are hearing by word of mouth or from the news media. In that respect, the Trump administration has taken a page from the playbook of major corporations guilty of not sharing life-saving information with their workers.

Olivia Troye, a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence who attended the coronavirus task force meetings, told the press she is not surprised by any of this.

“This is the culture inside the White House. It’s a culture of paranoia, a culture of fear,” Troye said on MSNBC. “Quite frankly, it’s a lack of transparency that happens on a daily basis even amongst the White House staff. What you’re watching is a breach in protocols.”

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.