Donald Trump and the Coronavirus: up close and personal

Last week, President Donald Trump contracted coronavirus following a stream of rallies and more generally a campaign that has downplayed the deadly consequences of the illness. After the first presidential debate with former Vice-President Joe Biden on Tuesday 29th September, the world witnessed and awkward affair peppered with interruptions and insults; Donald Trump even accused his opponent of taking too many precautions concerning COVID 19. Both overweight and 74 years of age, he falls into the category of individuals at high risk of contracting the coronavirus, so it comes as no surprise that his lax approach has finally gotten the better of him. 

Having dramatically been flown to hospital on Sunday, Mr. Trump has not let his illness stand between him and his campaigning ambitions. against all reason, he chose to leave the medical centre to greet the crowds outside of the facility, from the comfort of an armoured SUV. This move has been criticised as “insanity” by doctor James Phillips who heads the disaster medicine department at George Washington University; indeed, this has exposed an additional 12 people who were in the car with him. Overall the drive-by his tone-deaf and completely fails to recognise the devastating effects of the pandemic, despite his comments that he “gets it” (Sky News, 2020). 

The consequences of the President’s infection spread far beyond his own personal health: with November elections fast approaching, Mr. Trump’s obligation to quarantine has severely wounded his campaign strategy. Indeed, while Joe Biden has chosen to make his public appearances more scarce out of precaution, Donald Trump and his team have opted to promote his candidacy with live events (CNN Politics 2020), in a possible attempt to draw attention away from his attitude towards the coronavirus. Now that rallies such as the one in Florida have been cancelled, vice-president Mike Pence will assume responsibility for larger events in the campaign. While public appearances and in-person rallies are evidently Trump’s strong suit, they are not Pence’s, and as such the last leg of the presidential campaign is at risk. 

Clearly, the President’s poll numbers have suffered and proven that rallies are a vital part of Trump’s presidential campaign. Politico has observed that it is a “perilous way to finish the campaign for a candidate already trailing in the polls”. In a nightmare scenario, Trump’s positive test publicly undermines his narrative about the virus as well as his criticism of his overly cautious opponent (Politico, 2020). 

Instead, Trump is relying on his Twitter habit to get Americans to vote for him. In a stream of tweets since his hospitalisation, the president of the United States is resuming his campaign in all capitals and from his phone (Sky News, 2020). Calling for voters to unite, he claims that we will get through this together. If the polls are indicative of the outcome of the November elections, this might be a final grasp at the democratic straws of the United States of America. 

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