By Pauline Kerr
United States President Donald Trump has joined a select club of people – world leaders who have come down with COVID-19.
He joins Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, British prime minister Boris Johnson, Honduras president Juan Orlando Hernandez and Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko. There are more. Two of Canada’s opposition leaders recently tested positive for the virus.
The announcement about Trump came as no surprise – the American president has been out in crowds of people throughout the pandemic, and he rarely wears masks, apparently regarding them a sign of weakness. Considering the fact COVID-19 is out of control in a number of parts of the United States, and several White House staff have tested positive in past weeks, it was only a matter of time.
In fact, the president has downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 all along, in an effort to keep people working and the economy humming.
Contrary to popular belief, he has never called COVID-19 a hoax. However, he has advocated hydroxychloroquine as a treatment or preventative. This is an anti-malaria drug that can be quite toxic and has no proven benefit in combatting COVID-19.
He continues to say the virus is going to disappear on its own, has consistently downplayed the severity of COVID-19 and exaggerated the effectiveness of the American response to it. More to the point, he has acted as if he were immune. He clearly is not.
As of press time, it appeared that Trump would weather this crisis as he has so many others, and for that, the world is grateful. This includes not only his supporters but those who despise the man. The alternative, with the election only a month away, would be total chaos. The mere announcement of his illness sent the stock market on a downward plunge. For that reason, we wish Trump and his wife a speedy recovery.
Sadly, some of the people who will follow his lead in downplaying the severity of the virus and refusing to follow the advice of health experts – avoiding crowds, wearing masks, distancing – will not be so fortunate. And they most certainly will not be able to afford the frequent testing and top-of-the-line medical care that Trump and his wife have received.
Numbers of cases of COVID-19 and deaths from it are climbing in the United States. And they are climbing here.
We know how to flatten the curve – stay away from people outside our households as much as possible, maintain a two-metre distance between ourselves and others, wash our hands frequently, and wear masks when that two-metre distance is not possible or when in indoor public spaces.
Stay away from house parties, even if someone is just having a few friends over. If we cannot vouch for every contact of every person at that gathering, and every contact of a contact, it is too risky right now.
Yes, it will mean watching on Zoom what we would rather be enjoying in person. It will mean postponing weddings, and in some cases, sadly, funerals. It will mean another year without school dances, arenas packed with cheering fans, and huge family events. It will mean take-out dinners and an evening of Netflix instead of an exciting night on the town and dining at a favourite restaurant.
Unfortunately, Trump was right on one point – the economy cannot be neglected. The second wave will put many businesses in greater jeopardy than they already are. Now is the perfect time to rally around businesses in our community. We learned in the first lockdown how convenient buying online is. Now we need to think twice before we do it.
We must consider what we want our world to look like when COVID-19 is a distant memory. We want – need – our small shops, our restaurants, our neighbours. The local business community will not survive without our support.
More than anything, though, we must consider the safety of our families and every individual we come in contact with during the course of a day. We are still in this together.