President Donald Trump has had a lot to say about the coronavirus, a great deal of it misleading or simply false, and he has also modeled and even encouraged irresponsible behavior, all of which has surely contributed to the spread of the virus, since the President has the most powerful megaphone in the United States.Now all Trump s delusional thinking has finally caught up with him. Of course, Americans and people around the world wish the President a speedy recovery, which he is likely to have since he is getting some of the best medical treatment available.But it would be a huge service if Trump spent some of his time at Walter Reed hospital reflecting on how he ended up there. He should also think about the more than 208,000 Americans who have already died from Covid-19 and start formulating a real plan about how to mitigate the spread of this scourge.
A key to such a plan would be an effort to erase all the misinformation Trump has spread since the early days of the pandemic.
First, in February, Trump said that cases would go down to zero "within a couple of days."
Second, Trump said that come Easter Sunday, the US should be "opened up" because he "just thought it was a beautiful time."
Third, Trump claimed that the coronavirus was no more dangerous than the seasonal flu.
Fourth, Trump said in March that "anybody that wants a test can get a test," when tests were actually hard to get at the time. Even this summer, many patients had to wait several days for results, which meant that their tests were essentially useless in helping stop the spread of the virus.
Fifth, Trump suggested that injecting bleach might prove to be a treatment for the virus. (The president later said he was being "sarcastic.")
Sixth, Trump said that hydroxychloroquine was likely a "game changer" and that he was even taking the drug himself. In June, the Food and Drug Administration revoked "emergency use" of hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 patients, in part, because it could cause heart problems.Seventh, Trump said the virus could take a summer vacation once the weather warmed up. It didn t.
Eighth, Trump publicly denigrated his top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci as an alarmist.
Ninth, Trump claimed that the only reason coronavirus cases were rising in the US was because there was more testing.
Tenth, Trump has repeatedly asserted that an effective vaccine is just around the corner, while top scientists in his own administration say that such a vaccine will likely only be widely available by the middle of next year.
Eleventh, Trump has repeatedly failed to wear a mask in public, while he has publicly ridiculed those who do wear masks as a routine matter. On Tuesday, for instance, when Trump debated former Vice President Joe Biden, the President mocked his opponent, saying, "Every time you see him, he s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them and he shows up with the biggest mask I ve ever seen."
Twelfth, Trump has insisted on holding a series of campaign rallies around the US with thousands of attendees, many of them unmasked. He has also hosted events at the White House with large numbers of attendees socializing without masks as if they were at a pre-Covid-19 party, such as the announcement of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court a week ago.
Trump s falsehoods and cavalier behavior have had real impacts. A Cornell University study released last week found that that mentions of "Trump within the context of different misinformation topics made up 37% of the overall misinformation conversation, " based on a sample analysis of 38 million articles in English from around the world.An Axios/Ipsos poll in July found that more than three quarters of Democrats said they wore a mask at all times outside the house, while only under half of Republicans said they did so. Also, eight in 10 Americans polled said they would not get a vaccine if President Trump said it was safe, but most would trust their doctor.
Trump still can use his bully pulpit to reverse some of these damaging trends.