The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The pandemic Trump cannot ignore

Supporters cheer as President Trump departs a rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Saturday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The Post reports:

As coronavirus cases surge in the U.S. South and West, health experts in countries with falling case numbers are watching with a growing sense of alarm and disbelief, with many wondering why virus-stricken U.S. states continue to reopen and why the advice of scientists is often ignored.
“It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,” said Siouxsie Wiles, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand — a country that has confirmed only three new cases over the past three weeks and where citizens have now largely returned to their pre-coronavirus routines.

It is not so much that Americans have given up. Rather, it is that their president has made coronavirus-spreading conduct a test of political loyalty.

President Trump gleefully assembled in Tulsa thousands of his followers (albeit far fewer than he hoped). They were apparently too deluded to know they were putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk by cramming into an enclosed arena without masks, just so Trump could bask in the glory of a red-state crowd. (The Post reported, “Oklahoma reported 331 new coronavirus infections Saturday afternoon. The new cases put the state’s rolling average at 281, setting the average high record for the eighth day in a row. Tulsa County reported 136 new cases — another high for both single-day and average cases, which now stand at 98, up from an average of 51 new cases a day one week ago.” It evidently is of no concern to Trump.) The rally was not even in a state that he might lose in the fall; it is simply a conduit to undiluted MAGA fever, which may actually turn out to be quite deadly.

Full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

When word comes out that six campaign staff have tested positive, Trump is irate — because word leaked out. The New York Times reported, “Mr. Trump, made aware of the sick campaign aides before departing for the rally, was incensed the news was made public, according to two people familiar with his reaction.” If Trump does not care enough about the lives of thousands of rally-goers (or the tens of thousands they may infect) to defer a rally, or about the attendees of the Republican convention now planned for Jacksonville, Fla., to require masks or shift to a virtual mode, or about the senior citizens of Florida who may become infected when his RNC circus comes to their state, he surely is not going to care about the health of six campaign workers.

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans who are working outside their homes are concerned that they could be exposed to the virus at work and infect their families. (Video: The Washington Post)

The Republican Party, in its blind devotion to a man of such inhuman indifference to life (so much for the pro-life party), has succeeded in creating a culture war over unarguably effective health precautions. Protect yourself and your community or venerate Trump. Republicans choose the latter. A sea of white, unmasked faces showed up to flaunt their disdain for science and for human life. We already know the consequences of such conduct. (Trump weirdly boasted he had ordered testing to slow down, presumably to have fewer recorded cases. His team later claimed he was “kidding,” his all-purpose excuse when he says dumb things.)

In a slew of red states that reopened prematurely, where mask-rejecting Republicans remain intent on risking infection, incidents of coronavirus are soaring. “The United States reported more than 30,000 new infections on Friday, its highest total since May 1, with cases rising in 19 states across the South, West and Midwest,” the New York Times reported. “Florida reported 4,049 new cases on Saturday, breaking Friday’s record (3,822) and Thursday’s record (3,207). The state now has had 93,797 cases and 3,144 deaths. South Carolina also broke its record for the third day in a row, with 1,155 new cases.”

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This is not the conduct of a rational, normal leader, nor of a responsible party. Republicans are not only willing to commit political suicide in following Trump over the cliff in November; they also seem copacetic with the illness and death that their Trump idolatry spreads.

Whether Trump’s Tulsa rally leads to more sickness and death (as did Wisconsin’s refusal to delay primary and local voting in April) is unknown. What is certain is that revering Trump requires extreme recklessness, if not contempt for the well-being of fellow Americans. For Trump, no lives matter other than his own.

Read more:

Karen Tumulty: Trump used his rally to air his personal grievances. He could learn from another event.

Ruth Marcus: Trump’s problem in Tulsa wasn’t just empty seats. It was empty rhetoric.

Dana Milbank: Reelect President Trump or he’ll sue you!

Leana S. Wen: Eight ways to reduce the pandemic’s outsize impact on people of color

Megan McArdle: We can’t bear the truth of covid-19, so we’ve just decided to forget

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

New covid variant: The XBB.1.5 variant is a highly transmissible descendant of omicron that is now estimated to cause about half of new infections in the country. We answered some frequently asked questions about the bivalent booster shots.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.

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