Rushing through a Supreme Court nomination amid a presidential election by the political party that refused a vote for a nominee that came from a president of the other party is the height of hypocrisy. Refusing to follow simple precautions in the midst of a pandemic because doing so might result in a political payoff is the height of recklessness. Exposing co-workers and supporters to a deadly virus is the height of arrogance.
The past week should remind all of us that the novel coronavirus doesn’t care about any of it.
Last Friday, President Donald Trump revealed that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus. By that afternoon, it was clear that he had been contagious when he moved among unmasked supporters at a fundraiser, taking no precautions for himself or to protect others.
By Saturday morning, at least 10 people who had contact with Trump, including three senators, tested positive. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was hospitalized. On Tuesday, Trump’s press secretary announced that she had tested positive.
The Rose Garden introduction of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett turned out to be a super-spreader event. It likely was the source of many of the infections inside the White House inner circle and beyond.
It is also a cautionary tale about how to stay safe as the pandemic rolls on.
People with the coronavirus shed infectious cells for several days before the first symptoms appear. That means people who test positive for COVID-19 can infect those around them without knowing it.
Evidence now makes clear that masks are the most powerful weapon available against the spread of this disease. Added to that, staying 6 feet or more from others, avoiding crowds, especially inside, and staying home when feeling even slightly off can keep most safe while allowing some level of social and economic activity.
The pandemic is taking its toll. Case numbers are rising throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. Hospitals in Green Bay, Wis., are overwhelmed. Individuals engaged in public service are threatened by simply showing up to work. The national security of the United States is imperiled. The president of the United States and others in leadership are sick and sidelined.
The consequences of ignoring science and pretending COVID-19 is no longer a problem are perfectly clear. The virus is still ever-present. It doesn’t care, so we must.
Stay strong. Believe science. Follow public health guidelines. Don’t test positive—be positive instead.