On Wednesday Donald Trump held a press conference wherein he typically underplayed the risks of the spreading coronavirus (Covid-19). He repeatedly portrayed it as being effectively under control, which is not remotely true. He even contradicted the officials he introduced as the team he was putting in charge of the matter. With the exception of Vice-President Mike Pence, they were decidedly more cautious and stressed aggressive actions to confront the impending dangers. See the video below where Rachel Maddow breaks down this contradiction.
Around the world there are preventive measures being taken to mitigate the risks. International conferences and festivals are canceling their events. Amusement parks, concert and sporting arenas, schools, and other locations that attract large gatherings are closing down to reduce the potential for exposure and infection. But despite these precautions being undertaken by concerned operators, there is a conspicuous enterprise that is thumbing its runny nose at the advancing virus: The Donald Trump Reelection Campaign!
That’s right. Trump is continuing to schedule and host the rallies that assemble thousands of his cult followers in sweaty, confined venues where they are tightly packed and subject to precisely the sort of transmission conditions within which the virus proliferates. None of these StormTrumpers are screened for symptoms, and their anonymity would make it impossible to trace infection origins should some of them later be diagnosed with the virus.
Ordinarily this might be regarded as an alarmist position considering the low (at this point) infection rate in the United States. And one could reasonably complain that the same concerns should be raised about Democratic political events. However, there is a profound difference that makes the prospective perils entirely dissimilar.
By belittling the scope of the coronavirus threat, Trump is actually increasing its potential for harm. And the Trump-fluffers in the press (especially Fox News) are making matters even worse by not just undercutting responsible warnings, but actually advancing conspiracy theories that assert there is no threat whatsoever. Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that the virus was nothing more than the common cold, and that it was being hyped by Democrats to hurt Trump.
This campaign of trivialization is insuring that it is Trump’s supporters who are the least informed about the reality of this budding pandemic. They are, therefore, the most likely to dismiss the risks and behave in ways that could escalate the incidence of infection. So while supporters of Democratic candidates may gather in public, they are likely to be heeding common sense advice to wash their hands, use sanitizers, cough or sneeze safely, and even stay home if not feeling well. But the Trump cultists who aren’t buying the seriousness of the outbreak, will be more likely to ignore such precautions. Consequently, they will be more likely to transmit and acquire the infection.
This is by no means a call for all Americans to cower in their basements like doomsday preppers awaiting Armageddon. But it is a warning that there are real concerns and that some simple measures can be taken to mitigate risk. But if any community of people are dismissive of the facts that are available, those communities should be avoided. Suffice to say that you are likely to be safer among a crowd of cautious Democrats who trust science, than a swarm of oblivious Republican Trumpsters in denial.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.