With the premature reopening of the economy and a return to unmasked business as usual in states that have not yet met CDC guidelines to do so, the United States remains at the top of the list of global nations in the sheer number of COVID-19 cases, exceeding the number two country, Brazil, by over 1.2 million cases.
While a few other nations like Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom have higher per capita cases than the U.S., the countries are largely seeing falling numbers of new infections while in the United States, new cases have been flat until the past few days which have seen a surge in new coronavirus transmissions likely attributable to the loosening of state and local restrictions.
While health officials have been ringing alarm bells about the resurgence of the pandemic, the Trump administration is combining its ostrich-like denialism of the growing health crisis with active measures that are likely to result in even further spread of the disease.
Since Trump made the inconceivable decision to have the federal government largely wash its hands of the responsibility to coordinate a coherent national response to the pandemic in favor of endless calls to reopen the economy to salvage his re-election bid, the president has turned sensible preventative measures against the still-vaccine-less virus into political statements, as his own refusal to wear a protective mask became as much of an emulated behavior among MAGA fanatics as the wearing of those ubiquitous red baseball caps.
Trump’s refusal to heed the dangers of the COVID-19 virus has manifested itself most dangerously in his plans to resume the proto-fascist hate-fests that his political rallies typically are without sufficient concern to the health of any likely-maskless attendees.
Much like Trump’s insistence that his acceptance speech at the upcoming Republican National Convention be moved from North Carolina — where the Democratic governor has refused to allow a relaxation of coronavirus-inspired public health protective measures to accommodate the president’s desire for a photo op filled with maskless people pushed against each other like sardines — to Florida where Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has no such qualms about creating a new superspreader virus hotspot, Trump’s rally plans demonstrate a cruel indifference to the health of his own supporters.
That indifference does not extend to the legal liability that he and his campaign could suffer if attendees of his upcoming rallies contract COVID-19 since he’s had his legal team draft a waiver that every supporter must sign to hold them harmless in the eventuality of that sad fate.
Trump’s first post-lockdown rally was already controversial not just because of its cavalier attitude towards health and safety, but because it was initially scheduled to take place in a city — Tulsa, Oklahoma — that was the sight of one of the biggest massacres of African American citizens in U.S. history and on a day — June 19th, or “Juneteenth” — that is celebrated in black communities as a holiday marking the end of slavery in this country.
After a massive outcry over the rally scheduling as another of Trump’s racist dog whistles to his deplorable right-wing extremist base, his campaign postponed the rally by one day to demonstrate a modicum of sensitivity in these racially charged times.
Now the director of the Tulsa Health Department has gone on record to say that he wishes that Trump would postpone the rally until cases of COVID-19 in his city begin to recede in a state that has seen infection rise to record levels recently.
“I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.” Health Department director Bruce Dart told the Tulsa World today.
“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dart said. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”
It remains to be seen if Dart’s clever appeal to Trump’s medical paranoia about his own health will be sufficient to convince the president to submerge his desire for an ego-boosting fix or not.
It was smart of the Tulsa Health Department director to appeal to the president’s sense of personal security, however, since it’s plainly obvious that he cares not a whit about the health of his band of rabid followers, few of whom seem likely to wear masks for fear of being seen as sissy leftists.
Many of Trump’s evangelical supporters are creationists who don’t believe in the theory of evolution.
How ironic that they will add to the evidence accumulated by Darwin of the proof of “survival of the fittest’ as a means of natural selection.
How ironic that Trump thinks his electoral margins are so good that he can afford to lose large numbers of supporters who might fall prey to the rapacious virus after they cheer him on.
Original reporting by The Associated Press.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.