THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL | 2 OCTOBER, 2020
Trump Tests Positive for Coronavirus - What Now?
Impact on elections
US President Donald Trump has tested positive for Coronavirus. As has his wife Melanie. As has his close aide Hope Hicks. In fact it was the media that broke the story of Hicks being diagnosed with Covid, and for hours speculated how this might have impacted on Trump and other White House staffers who have been working with her closely, and travelling together. Finally Trump and the Shite House had to disclose that he is positive, leading to further media criticism as to one, when did he know of it, and two, why had he been travelling and meeting people regardless.
This has come after the first Presidential debate where Trump ridiculed his rival Joe Biden for hiding behind huge masks -- part of his long campaign against science that led to his supporters and officials in the White House to walk around without masks and completely dismiss the concept of physical distancing. Despite media criticism of holding indoor rallies Trump continued to defy sound medical advice, and has now been struck with the virus in what is one of the worst health disasters to befall an American President in office. And as doctors coming on television are pointing out he is obese and has co-morbidities that could create their own complications.
But once the US commentators recover from the shock, even though many had been predicting it, the attention will shift to the forthcoming elections that are just about five weeks away. And a great deal will depend on Trump’s ability to overcome the virus in record time and be back on the campaign trail. He needed to hit the ground running, given the increasing popularity of Biden as compared to him with the polls giving higher percentage ratings to the former vice president after the first presidential debate. It is not clear as yet whether the President has any symptoms as yet, when did he develop these, and what precautions if any did he take since.
The US has been badly impacted by coronavirus with the country polarised between white supremacist supporters of Trump and others who believe in racial equality and justice. The Republicans seem at this stage to represent the first lot, where masks are regarded with contempt as well and the Democrats speaking for science and equality, Trump had refused to condemn the white racist group Proud Boys when questioned by the moderator during the presidential debate. And instead asked them to step back and stand by, as he went on to say that his supporters would keep a close watch on the polling and any tampering would not be acceptable. This led to a media furore with commentators and anchors seeing this as a threat to free and fair elections in the US.
Even if Trump recovers within the 14 days, he will have lost valuable campaign time. And in the process raised serious questions of national security and governance. But for the moment the impact of his strategy in handling Covid 19, his insistence that economy should come before physical safety, his dismissal of scientific advice has moved out from the streets where thousands of Americans have died and been infected with the virus, right into the corridors of power that includes his own home. It has created a serious crisis for Washington, with the nervousness palpable.
The next weeks will be crucial for the US with three questions looking for answers - what will this mean for the President, what will this mean for the elections, and what will this mean for the US. And of course for the world.
Cover photograph AP
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