Trump’s lethal failure to face the COVID pandemic. Part 5: Maybe I’m immune
By the end of August 2020 Trump had a new ally on his team, Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist, who advocated ‘herd immunity’, a strategy that applies to vaccines, not natural infection. And since it involves the vast majority of the population getting infected, it results in a lot of people dying or becoming permanently disabled. Dr. Fauci dismissed herd immunity. Trump retweeted the false assertion that, according to CDC, only 6% of those included in the COVID-19 death count actually died of COVID so the numbers were vastly inflated. Dr. Fauci set him right, as did the CDC. In fact, the numbers were substantial underestimates. Trump was continuing to differ with the experts and was still saying that the U.S. was “rounding the final turn.” Fauci disagreed with that, too. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicted deaths would double by year end.
On the vaccine front things were looking more hopeful. The CDC told States to be ready to distribute vaccines on Nov. 1, though the NIH director said that was unlikely. Worried by the haste, experts called for independent commission separate from FDA to review Covid-19 vaccines. The White House declined to join a global COVID-19 vaccine initiative.
After a very brief spell of recommending masks, Trump had reverted to mocking others for wearing them. He even tried to get a reporter to remove his mask at a news conference. Masks work. He carried on playing golf and holding his superspreading rallies, including Latrobe, PA, Winston-Salem, NC, Freeland, MI, Minden, NV, Henderson, NV (indoors), Mosinee, WI and Bemidji, MN (several attendees later tested positive, resulting in 20 cases). If he did not spread the virus himself, he set up the conditions for people to infect each other. White House staff members tested positive less than 48 hours after he visited Sacramento.
The numbers of health care workers, children, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally-goers and the population as a whole infected with COVID-19 continued to rise. Nevertheless, USAID shut down its coronavirus task force and screening was ended for International Air Passengers.
Trump carried on holding rallies and meeting people without wearing a mask, saying the virus ‘affects virtually nobody’. The CDC posted new COVID-19 Guidelines that said virus can travel more than 6 feet in air, then retracted them. By this time the US surpassed 7 million coronavirus cases and things were about to get worse for Trump’s circle.
Come into the Rose Garden and catch COVID-19
On 25 September 2020 Trump met and traveled with numerous people in Atlanta, GA, one of his hotels near the White House, and Williamsburg International Airport, VA. One of his White House security officials was reported to be gravely ill with COVID-19 and two people he was with, his aide Hope Hicks and RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who who delayed announcing her diagnosis, tested positive a few days later. Trump took part in a fundraiser and a roundtable in Bedminster, NJ that day, possibly after he heard Hicks had tested positive. He got tested, and blamed Hick’s infection on soldiers and law enforcement wanting to hug her.
The next day many people gathered from far and wide in the White House and its Rose Garden for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court Justice and/or other events. Given a false sense of security by Trump’s repeated downplaying of the risks (he was the ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation) and by having been tested, few wore masks or socially distanced. The following day Trump held a news conference and hosted a reception at the White House. The day after that Trump attended several events including a presidential debate prep session at White House. By this time Hope Hicks may have been infectious, and possibly even Trump himself. Fauci said the White House Covid-19 outbreak “could have been prevented.” The White House did not conduct contact tracing afterwards.
Many of the people at one or more of these events were to test positive for COVID-19 in the following days.
On 29 September came the first presidential debate, followed by at least 11 COVID cases. Trump’s family didn’t wear masks. Trump showed up too late to the debate to be tested as planned so they had to abide by the “honor system.”
The following day Trump attended a rally at Duluth Rally not long before getting a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. An outbreak ensued. Hope Hicks, who traveled with him aboard Marine One, experienced symptoms. Trump also held a private fundraiser. Hope Hicks tested positive on 1 October.
COVID-19 finally catches Trump
Trump, Melania and their son Barron tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of October. Trump’s symptoms were either mild or serious. Either way, he was taken to Walter Reed Hospital and received experimental antibody treatment. Three White House journalists also tested positive, as did various others over the following days. All but one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff self-quarantined, as did senators and many others but not Mike Pence. Yet some top White House officials were still appearing in public without masks.
Continuing to show a blatant disregard for the safety of others, while sick he had himself driven in the hermetically sealed Presidential SUV with members of the Secret Service, just to wave at his fans. Trump was released from hospital within a few days, but looked very short of breath when he removed his mask upon arrival at White House. He told Americans they shouldn’t be ‘afraid’ of COVID-19, even though over 200,000 had died, and most people did not have access to the expensive treatments and care he got. He falsely claimed that coronavirus is less deadly than flu and continued to resist stronger coronavirus precautions. He also claimed that he ‘had to’ catch COVID as a leader. I doubt if many leaders, or those he infected, would agree.
Maybe I’m Immune
He also said, “Maybe I’m Immune”. (Here’s a great parody on this theme). While with some diseases, having had it gives a considerable amount of immunity, with others, like flu, you are not immune to all their mutations. And with COVID-19 being so new, there is not a lot of evidence to show how long immunity might last.
Trump was soon back on the campaign trail, pushing for a vaccine to become available by election day to improve his chances of winning.
To see far more examples of Trump downplaying the virus, blaming others and falsely boasting about how well he is doing and how everything is under control, as well as what others are saying and doing, and who he came into contact with who caught COVID, please click here.