If you go to the coronavirus section of the website cdc.gov and click the link “CDC on testing guidance” under “Latest updates” you’ll get a message that says, “Oops! We can’t seem to find the page you were looking for.” What it used to say was, “If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms: You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your healthcare provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.” [Italics added.]
That message may have been replaced by “Oops” because CNN recently produced a segment criticizing what it originally said. That healthcare professionals would post such an irresponsible thing in the first place is an example of the trickle down corruption brought to you by Donald Trump and the Trump administration. The original language of the CDC message is so dry and so matter of fact that it might have easily been missed and the chilling portent behind it overlooked. Clearly, someone at CNN was paying attention.
Now that the number of coronavirus cases in the United States has passed six million and the number of deaths has exceeded 183,000, you would think that the disease would be taken more seriously. After all, that same CDC website that, until caught, dismissed the need for coronavirus testing after exposure, has an entire page devoted to the prevention of drunk driving. Yet drunk driving in the United States “only” kills one person every fifty minutes. Almost one person a minute dies from coronavirus.
A friend of mine who just returned from rural South Carolina said people sneered at him for wearing a mask. The further into “Trump country” one gets the more contempt is shown for taking coronavirus seriously. (It’s no accident that South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union and was where the American Civil War began. There is a dreadful synergy at work here.)
That Donald Trump has turned coronavirus and the wearing of masks in particular and prevention in general into an issue of political contention isn’t just part of the problem, it is the problem. Even while he publicly (and inconsistently) pivots on the need to wear a mask, the practice is rarely followed in the White House, and the rest of the country that looks to him for leadership follows suit.
Whether or not the doctors and healthcare professionals at the CDC look to Trump for leadership, the fact remains that the CDC is a federal agency. People in power are there because they were put there by Trump or remain there by dint of his forbearance. The influence of his power is strong on the weak minded, their common sense and willpower become subverted over time until they subtly betray their Hippocratic oaths in the service of Trump’s brittle ego.
This is the political reason why coronavirus is being ignored, and why perhaps a million or more people will die before Donald Trump is finished. Add to that the coronavirus is so very tiny — a thousand times smaller than a grain of rice — and it’s easy to understand how even educated adults can be lulled into complacence. Coronavirus is an Everest-size problem with a molehill for a public relations budget.
This is another reason why Donald Trump is so very dangerous. His indifference to the deadliness of this pandemic is infecting everyone. If you take the pandemic seriously and are doing everything in your power to keep from getting this bug, your chances are significantly diminished because of Trump. People around you will se your efforts as stupid and may ever attempt to deliberately infect you.
There are a million reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States. This has been another one. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.