Eleven of the president’s Secret Service agents have tested positive for COVID-19. The same diagnosis applies to Katie Miller, VP Pence’s press secretary and wife of the exasperatingly xenophobic presidential adviser Stephen Miller. (Miller should have worked focused his efforts on banning viruses rather than humans from entering our nation.) The persistent little virus also recently found its way into one of President Trump’s personal valets. After infecting close to one and a half million Americans throughout the nation, this potentially deadly disease has invaded the White House.
The response: President Trump’s staff will be tested daily for the disease—even as the POTUS and his VP repeatedly refuse to wear protective masks in public places.
In our nation of 330 million humans, just eight million tests have been administered—total, since the virus’s arrival, months ago. If each of those tests was administered to one individual one time—which is not the case—then the best-case scenario is that—three and a half months after this virulent virus reached our land—less than three percent of our population has been tested even once. Meanwhile President Trump’s staff will be tested daily. That’s some 30 tests per month for each person on the president’s staff—but still no tests for the vast majority of Americans.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I work in a senior-living community. Not one person in our community—resident or staff—has yet been tested. One-fourth of all COVID deaths in America have been in senior-living communities like the one where I work. Yet the tests are still not available to us. Instead, when one of our residents exhibits any possible sign of the virus, we must quarantine that person while monitoring his or her symptoms. And when a staffer has a slightly elevated temperature, a persistent cough, or a sore throat, he or she is required to self-quarantine at home for at least 10 days. That action, of course, makes more work for the remaining staff members and, in turn, can affect the community’s ability to effectively keep the virus at bay.
Meanwhile, as the president dithered for weeks, claiming this new virus was no more dangerous than the common flu and that it would miraculously disappear in spring when the weather warmed, COVID was spreading across the nation, largely undetected. Now, after it has killed nearly 80,000 Americans, we’re still guessing as to how many more it has affected—because tests are still unavailable to most Americans. But not to those working near the president, who for months downplayed the virus’s danger.
That’s classic Trump, and classic Trumpism. The danger—whatever it is—is either nonexistent or exaggerated … until it hits home. Trump and his followers seem incapable of empathy. Trump is—I’m convinced—a sociopath, and it seems many of his loyal supporters share that distressing character flaw. That’s why we see so many of them angrily protesting measures designed to protect the nation’s population from this lethal virus. If COVID has not yet hit them or someone close enough to put them in imminent danger, then it’s not a real concern.
The problem with that self-centered belief is just that—it’s a belief, and mistaken beliefs can be deadly. Sooner or later, that mistaken belief about COVID’s nonthreatening nature is likely to catch up to those who hold that view. Meanwhile, it’s killing thousands of others daily. But to Trumpists, others are of no concern. That’s evident in the xenophobic legislation pushed by the above-mentioned Stephen Miller and cheered by most Trumpists.
The plain fact anyone should be able to see is that viruses like COVID-19 do not discriminate. To COVID, every human is an other—just another potential host. So whether that other resides in the White House, the house down the street, the senior-living community, or under a cardboard box in the park, the virus has targeted each and every one of us; we’re all others. But with this lethal enemy decimating our planet, others need to set aside differences and become community.
The choice and actions each of us take—day by day, minute by minute—ripple out and affect all of us. But we have a president—and millions more like him—who cannot seem to understand that community concept. And that truth does not bode well for our nation’s future.