COVID and The White House
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
By Kathleen Zapata '24
On March 10, 2020, just as the U.S. reported its 755th case, President Trump told reporters, “We’re doing a great job at it.” Following that day, the whole country has watched as over 300,000 thousand Americans have died from COVID-19, with new cases climbing exponentially.
For several months, the President has refused to wear a mask, telling reporters, “[I] didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it [on].” He treated it as a voluntary action rather than a mandatory one: “You don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that's OK. It may be good. Probably will. They're making a recommendation. It's only a recommendation.” This contradicted the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well the CDC and WHO guidelines; all actively advocate for masks and social distancing. The President has also hosted superspreader events, most visibly on September 26 for his Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, with no masks or social distancing in sight.
The White House faced a COVID outbreak believed to be from these superspreader events. In a tweet on October 2nd, President Trump said, “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!" According to Twitter Bender, this was his most liked tweet of 2020, with over 1.8 million “likes.” Some critical users shared replies like, "Geez, if only someone saw this coming and recommended some kind of facial covering to lessen the exposure. Oh well, I hear if you inject bleach it'll clear right up," sarcastically alluding to his past response to the virus by telling people to inject themselves with disinfectants.
Others brought up that a week prior, during the first presidential debate, President Trump poked fun at former Vice President Biden, in front of millions of Americans, for wearing a mask. “Should have worn a mask. Remember mocking Biden for wearing a mask?” one Twitter user reacted.
Prominent members of the President’s campaign staff and cabinet have also tested positive for COVID-19, including Bill Stephien, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, who were all present during the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney-Barrett.
The President testing positive felt like the crowning moment of this scandal-ravaged year, as he tried to finger-point his way out of his negligence and recklessness. It was another national embarrassment exhibiting his campaign’s disastrous handling of this pandemic. By politicizing and compromising the safety of the people, he has effectively sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives while still claiming that “it could’ve gotten worse.” He has failed to do his part, and now that he has contracted it, he is an animate emblem of his failures to manage this COVID crisis.