On the morning of Friday, Oct. 1, Trump told the American public that he had tested positive for COVID-19. His announcement was followed by a wave of other high-up Republicans testing positive, including Chris Christie, Kellyanne Conway and Kayleigh Mcenany. There are, of course, many implications this has on the way the nation confronts the pandemic. How can we expect Trump to handle it for hundreds of millions of people when he can’t even protect himself? However, I think a short rehashing of the timeline of events also shows the absurd nature of how this administration operates.
Where Trump actually contracted the virus is still unclear. Many have pointed to Amy Coney Barrett’s Rose Garden ceremony as a possible super-spreading event. The ceremony had many unmasked guests, rampant hugging and even some indoor portions. Why this event was allowed to occur is unclear, especially considering many of the new COVID-19 patients were at this ceremony.
Another possible source of Trump’s infection is White House senior advisor Hope Hicks, who tested positive Oct. 1 after helping Trump prepare for the debate without a mask. Trump knew of Hope’s positive diagnosis and still held a fundraiser in New Jersey, talking to hundreds of people without a mask, despite his contact with Hicks. No cases have been traced back to this fundraiser, but it was still a ridiculously reckless decision. Hilariously, while on Sean Hannity, Trump offered his interactions with police officers as a possible infection source, saying he simply couldn’t resist hugging and kissing them. Wherever Trump got COVID-19, he announced it to the public early Friday morning through Twitter.
Friday evening, Trump checked in to Walter Reed Medical Center, with White House press secretary Kayeigh Mcenany saying it was out of “an abundance of caution.” The Trump administration attempted to paint the President as faring incredibly well, with Trump often implying he never needed the medical treatment to begin with. However, many details have seeped out of the event that seem to show a different story. Firstly, Trump was quickly given a massive cocktail of experimental antibodies. Surely he would only be given this risky treatment if the case was a particularly serious one. On Saturday, Oct. 2, there were conflicting messages, with Trump’s doctor having great hopes for his recovery, while Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said there is “no clear path to recovery.”
White House Physician Sean Conley also faced a challenge at Saturday’s press conference. First he declined to answer when Trump’s last negative test was, legitimizing questions of when Trump actually contracted the virus. He was also questioned repeatedly about whether Trump had received oxygen as part of his medical care. Conley was clearly dodging these questions, saying “he hasn’t received any this morning” when the reporter was clearly asking if he had received any the previous two days. He was even knowingly smiling while dodging the questions; he and all the reporters knew what he was doing, but it’s standard fare for this administration. Conley eventually claimed Trump was never on oxygen after being repeatedly pushed to give an answer. The next day, Conley admitted he lied — Trump had been on oxygen — and said he was trying to “reflect the upbeat attitude” that Trump’s medical team had.
It is expected, of course, for a politician to show themselves in the best possible light. This doesn’t mean, however, we shouldn’t try to dissect what they are obfuscating and why. Given the level of misinformation surrounding what has been told to the public, I don’t think it’s a stretch to doubt some of the specifics of this timeline. It’s very plausible that Trump either tested positive or began to show symptoms before the White House claims. It’s also practically impossible to deny that Trump’s case is much more serious than he is letting on. The intensity of his treatment would be brought on only by a somewhat dire case.
It’s honestly hard to say what to take away from this entire circus other than the sheer disorganized and chaotic mess of it. White House Physician Conley was questioned about Trump’s mental state following these treatments and confidently stated “I think you’ve seen the videos,” as if the videos in question weren’t ridiculous and unhinged. The lack of proper safety procedures within Republican circles is alarming, but it’s hard not to laugh at how incapable they are in the face of such a serious crisis. The blatant lying sets a dangerous precedent, but you can’t deny the hilarity when the lies are juxtaposed by the clearly disparate condition the President is actually in. It feels like the only fitting conclusion to Trump’s bleakly comedic term in office.