Donald Trump celebrated the initial stages of his recovery from Covid-19 much like a joyous halfback who has just spiked the football in the end zone. The President was understandably happy that he seemed to be coming through the infection with mild symptoms, but he conveyed the general impression that he had manhandled and defeated the virus by his sheer manliness.
While Trump gave thanks to the doctors and to those who had sent their prayers, it was surprising that one who poses as a pious religious man did not assign a starring role to the Creator for making his return to health possible. You would think that Trump prevailed over the virus by simply willing its defeat. He certainly did not provide much public credit or thanks for divine intervention.
The most striking thing about his jubilance was that he failed to reflect on how the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives of tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters and to add body count to the list of the more than 213,000 who have already succumbed. It is as if they played no part in his celebratory end zone antics.
Instead of being cognizant of the continuing coronavirus threat to his countrymen, including those who serve him in the virus-ravaged White House, Trump proclaimed that his experience illustrated the virus is nothing to worry about–pretty much as harmless as the seasonal flu. I suppose if one has a phalanx of doctors and the latest cutting-edge experimental treatments at hand, it might be easier to take a cavalier attitude toward the Covid-19 scourge.
Well, actually, the Covid-19 death rate is fairly low compared to the bubonic plague or a variety of common cancers. Of the 7.64 million Americans diagnosed with Covid-19 thus far, over 213,000, roughly 2.8%, have died. Pancreatic cancer (which I was diagnosed with in January 2017 and from which I have since recovered) had a death rate of about 81.7% last year, based upon 47,050 deaths and 57,600 diagnosed cases.
However, when you factor in the contagious and virulent nature of the coronavirus, it poses a greater overall threat to the American public than many deadlier diseases. It is nothing to make light of or downplay, as Trump consistently has. We need not let it “dominate” our lives, but we dare not let down our guard against it or treat it as a mere nuisance. Too many Americans will continue to needlessly forfeit their lives if we follow Trump’s advice.
Perhaps the most baffling and troubling words voiced by the President were those in which he implied that he contracted the virus as a means of serving his subjects. In his campaign-style video, he said: “As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s OK.” Was he trying to draw a Biblical comparison? Was he implying that he was intent on sacrificing himself for the good of his flock?
If that is what we are to draw from the video, it is unclear what the purpose of the sacrifice was. It did not save any lives. It is hard to see how it made life better for anyone. Indeed, Trump’s supposed sacrifice caused the virus to spread throughout the White House and beyond. If he intentionally exposed himself to the virus to present an object lesson to the public that the virus need not be feared, it was a reckless gesture that served no valid purpose.
Had Trump been motivated to use his illness to illustrate religious values, it might have been better for him to show compassion and sorrow for the approximate 80% of our Covid-19 dead whose lives he sacrificed to keep the stock markets strong. He could have expressed regret and asked forgiveness for upending the lives of the millions of other Americans whose lives have been upended by his chaotic response to the pandemic.
Trump’s celebration of his supposed sacrifice for, and subsequent deliverance from, the coronavirus is probably not the best way to demonstrate his concern for the well-being of his people. It is time that he dispense with the end zone antics and buckle down to the task of protecting America.