Trump unmasked

Lifestyle

The alarming news of spiking coronavirus cases across the United States is only made worse when considering the very easy way by which the deadly virus can be thwarted.

On Wednesday, the U.S. reported more than 36,000 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number since the pandemic began (until Thursday’s 41,000). With more than 125,000 Americans dead, and projections for that number to reach 180,000 by the early fall, the United States is facing historic devastation, even as much of the rest of the world begins its recovery.

That so much of this could have been prevented had Americans simply worn facemasks is a damning indictment of both our national response and the broken culture that shaped it. Even more, the fact that President Trump has never urged Americans to wear masks, but rather actively undermined that recommendation by his own refusal to do so, is the clearest proof of his inability to fulfill even the most basic obligations of the presidency — and a dire warning about the deadly consequences should he be president for four more years.

From the start, Trump has failed to take the pandemic seriously, dismissing it initially as an insignificant illness that would go away on its own. When that didn’t happen, Trump leaned into his crackpot tendencies, recklessly pushing hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure for the virus. That didn’t work either.

Yet when public health officials began to insist that Americans socially distance and wear masks whenever out in public — an admittedly frustrating reversal from their original position that face coverings wouldn’t stop infections from spreading — Trump ignored their recommendations. Nearly two months ago, experts concluded that if 80 percent of Americans wore masks, the rate of coronavirus infections would drop drastically. This week, a new study showed that should 95 percent of Americans wear masks, the projected 180,000 deaths by October 1 could be reduced to fewer than 150,000. But none of this has altered Trump’s stance. Expertise rarely does. Even as he rushed the nation into reopening, Trump refused to promote the single best measure for safely doing so.

Instead, on Twitter and in interviews, Trump said he wouldn’t be wearing a mask, mocked Joe Biden for doing so, and wondered aloud if masks would do any good. Because Trump is incapable of understanding the virus — he has confused coronavirus with a bacterial infection and just this week revealed he didn’t know what the “19” in COVID-19 meant — he would rather sow confusion and weaken scientific consensus, a strategy also meant to shift the blame from him. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, Trump repeatedly questioned the efficacy of masks, describing them as “a double-edged sword.” They are not.

But even more than his words, Trump’s failure to wear a mask sends a powerful signal to his followers that they don’t need to do so either. Given how attached Trump’s supporters are to his symbolic presence and …read more

Source:: The Week – Health

      

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