The Lies That Infected Trump

Jeffrey D. Sachs

Like other world leaders who have contracted COVID-19, US President Donald Trump could easily have avoided being infected by observing normal public-health strictures. But Trump’s anti-scientific dispensation has deeper roots in recent American politics and culture.

NEW YORK – Unlike tens of millions of people around the world who have contracted COVID-19 because of their poverty, bad luck, vulnerability as essential workers, or poor decisions by policymakers, US President Donald Trump’s infection is of his own making. Trump’s disdain for science and his brazen disregard for public-health advice led directly to his own illness; far worse, they have fueled America’s soaring COVID-19 death toll – now at more than 214,000.

Since the pandemic began, public health experts around the world have begged the public to wear face masks, avoid large gatherings, and maintain physical distance from others, in order to stop the transmission of the virus. Leave it to Trump, a man of pathological disposition, to reject all such advice. Barely two days before announcing that he and the First Lady had tested positive, Trump was mocking Joe Biden for wearing one. “I don’t wear a mask like him,” Trump said at the first presidential debate. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away … and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

Rejecting appeals by public health experts and local officials, Trump had been holding large rallies both indoors and outdoors in recent months, with non-masked attendees standing close together. And Trump spurned basic precautions in the White House, including physical distancing of staff and requiring face masks in meetings.

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