Millions of Americans seem to be manifesting what has been called “insane” behavior: They keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different and better result. They keep flouting coronavirus regulations, and, even though such behavior has killed an outrageous number of Americans, they still expect a different outcome for themselves. They are surprised when they get sick.
In the midst of a surging pandemic, they won’t wear a simple mask, even as the highly contagious virus sweeps across the country. They continue circulating the same lies about Covid-19 that have challenged the medical community from the beginning. These lies, minimizing the threat of the disease, undermine epidemiologists and embolden people to take risks that may land them in the ICU.
Even though people at the White House are dropping like flies, those loyal to President Trump don’t see the necessity of a course correction in White House coronavirus protocols. They are still ready to attend Trump’s mask-optional rallies without social distancing, even after people have gotten sick and died after such public events. Just ask Herman Cain.
Millions think it’s OK to move about in public without observing the basic safety precautions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They have no problem with sitting within spitting distance of the speaker at the podium. Witness the president’s unmasked children sitting in the audience at the first debate.
I still see people without masks in local stores. They apparently believe that if Covid-19 isn’t a hoax, then at worst it’s no big deal, and in Trump’s case it’s “a blessing in disguise.” So, no worries.
And why should they fret? The president of the United States isn’t worried. Even after testing positive, after suffering various clinical symptoms of Covid-19, having at least two episodes of low oxygen levels and spiking a fever, he is champing at the bit to hold rallies and even an in-person second debate with Joe Biden.
At press time, the White House was refusing to release his updated Covid-19 test results. These aren’t his tax returns; this is life and death. He was a one-man source of contagion, with more than 30 people and counting in his inner and extended circle falling ill with the disease. It hasn’t been determined who is Patient One in the White House cluster, but Trump is doing nothing to urge contact tracing or rigorous testing.
Even sick, he insisted on that notorious joy ride around Walter Reed Army Medical Center, exposing everyone in the presidential SUV to the virus. In his widely mocked “Covita” appearance from a White House balcony, looking like your generic dictator, he insisted he was cured. It was like a miracle. Actually, it was ill-advised and seemingly delusional.
With Donald Trump, there is absolutely no learning curve, and on some level, that’s the worst thing about him. He doesn’t learn, he doesn’t evolve, he doesn’t get enlightened, he doesn’t ever apologize for his mistakes.
He could get lucky and survive, but as we went to press, he should be in isolation, according to many medical experts. Nevertheless, he insists he is fine, and is going about his business, often without a mask and without observing social distancing. He has learned nothing from this bout with Covid-19.
The novel coronavirus has brought about a novel realization. The president is unable to learn from his blunders and misapprehensions because he cannot acknowledge making mistakes. He never regrets; he never apologizes. Bad outcomes are always someone else’s fault.
In the case of his Covid-19, he hinted that the Gold Star families he greeted at the White House might have gotten him sick. But he may have known he was positive for the virus before he received the military families in the White House, with few masks in sight. How could he not spread the infection he carried? In an interview, he said the Gold Star families love to touch him and kiss him. Some, I imagine, may pay a price for that privilege.
In the criminal justice system, someone who can’t learn from his mistakes is known as a repeat offender. Repeat offenders in the time of Covid are those who keep walking through this viral fire without expecting to get burned.
I must be insane, too, because I fully hoped that a chastened president might express thanks for his recovery and then embrace all the Covid-19 precautions that would keep the people around him safe.
Copyright 2020 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.