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The world woke up to the news that United States (U.S) President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Though none is immune from contracting this deadly virus what makes the Trumps’ case an international conversation is not necessarily because of Mr. Trump’s office but his politicisation of the virus.
The President has the distinguished privilege of being among the first in the world to know when this virus broke out in Wuhan China, in January, and the dire consequences it would likely wrought on lives and the world’s economy if not properly handled. His was the opportunity, as the Leader of the Free World, to provide the world with a direction not only to combat the virus through finding an appropriate vaccine, but also the protocols to be followed to avoid becoming infected and spreading the infection.
The global pandemic presented the U.S that the world, particularly western societies and small nations such as ours, look to for guidance. Instead, the world watched in dismay as the virus spiraled out of control, the U.S whose population makes up four percent of the world’s had quarter the world’s infection rate. It became difficult to comprehend that a nation that leads in science and has the world’s largest economy was not leading the way to combatting the virus through scientific methods.
It could not be understood why in February, President Trump said to the world that COVID-19 was like a “regular flu” and will “disappear” as the World Health Organisation (WHO) was sending out warnings the virus is serious and should be treated seriously. Last month it was understood, via investigative journalist Bob Woodward, that President Trump knew this but opted not to have the nation “panic.” In choosing the path of least resistance, when resistance was most needed, the President opted to manage the virus as a partisan political issue.
Americans were encouraged by him not to wear masks even when the WHO, medical experts (scientists) within his own administration and elsewhere advised the wearing of masks as the best defense in not spreading or contracting the virus. With the presidential election on 3rd November, the President held rallies as supporters failed to observe the social distancing (6-feet apart) rule and wear masks, mocking those who encouraged them to. They were taking the cue from their leader, the world’s most powerful politician who frequently mocked his presidential rival, former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask. The derision became a rallying cry to gin up supporters who like trusting lambs, being led to the proverbial slaughter, have awoken today to a reality that the leader they trusted most with their lives was misleading them.
Supporters and the world awaken to find that while political currency could be had from refusing to wear a mask and social distancing the virus is not political. If it was, when the U.S withdrew from the WHO on allegation it sided with China in not controlling the spread of the virus, the President would have been spared. This coronavirus, proves yet again, it is a respecter of no one. Him being tested positive will now necessitate contact tracing for those who he came in contact with, including Biden who shared the debate stage with him on Tuesday.
Among Americans there is the belief of an “October surprise”in the presidential election year. That is, something untoward happening that could throw the race in a tailspin and likely impact the outcome. Is this the October surprise? With the president being quarantined for at least the required 14-days this will curtail him campaigning. Additionally, he is a vulnerable demographic, given his age and having to deal with comorbidities such as obesity. The concern on the minds of everyone is his ability to ride through this proverbial storm safely.