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Analysis Coronavirus International

Trump’s Malady Shows How Crazy This Virus Is

This virus is so lethal that even the most protected man on this planet could not protect himself from its tentacles. It was ok for us to believe that Boris Johnson or the Brazilian Prime Minister, Jair Bolsonaro, or the powerless Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin could test positive for the life threatening virus but our collective conscious cannot fathom that even the leader of the free world has been affected and infected. This virus does not differentiate between popes and paupers, between the sick or healthy, between those too old to walk or those too young to, between our guardians and those at the mercy of them.

It would not have been too outlandish to believe that the White House itself would become complicit in spreading this novel virus because Trump and his staff were very callous from the very first day when news broke about this “Chinese virus”. This is exactly what happened. Judge Ginsburg’s potential replacement, Judge Amy Barrett’s reception at the Rose Garden last Saturday had all the hallmarks of a super spreader. Wearing masks was not obligatory yet hand shaking was. After the speech, visitors mingled indoors at close proximity to each other, even hugging each other. Twelve out of those Republican lawmakers, ex-Governors and the inner White House cluster have tested positive so far. There may be more of them who have not begun to see symptoms yet or have not tested.

The Donald may be suffering but his political instinct has made sure that the right optics go out to the public. He voluntarily chose to go to the Walter Reed Medical Center. It has been said that throughout his life Trump has had a phobia of hospitals and avoids them as much as possible. His team informed him that he did not need to be hospitalized yet, but Trump was worried about the sordid picture it would make if he was transported to the Marine One in a wheelchair or worse a ventilator later on when his condition worsened. It would be far better for him if he walked to the helicopter on his own two feet and thus refurbished any rumours that he is perilously sick. What White House staffers tried to hide from the news media was that he received supplemental oxygen on Friday. When asked in a news briefing if Trump indeed had received oxygen, his chief medical officer, Dr Sean Conley dodged the question by stating that the President did not receive oxygen “this morning (Saturday)”.

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Trump’s jubilant twitter video aside, his situation looks critical and those close to him are concerned. The White House Chief of Staff, to Trump’s detriment, expressed his candid views in a phone interview to Fox News. Of course, the only reason everyone in the US seems anxious is because this event might just upend the Presidential race. In an election year which has been extremely tumultuous from the virus striking and killing nearly a quarter million people in the United States, to the race riots which took us back to the MLK era, and then just recently the massive furor the Democrats created over the nomination of a new conservative judge to replace a doggedly liberal one, Trump’s illness just adds to this whole election saga which has been far from normal.

Naysayers and those opposed to him are rejoicing that the President got afflicted by a malady that he continuously denied and downplayed. He is such a polarizing President that even in his hour of need, instead of well-meaning messages he has become the brunt of even more hate mail, so much so that Twitter had to go on the record with its policy that any tweets wishing death on someone would be automatically deleted. There are two questions on everyone’s mind. First, to what extent would COVID-19 affect Trump. Would he be ok after a couple of weeks in intensive care, or would it seriously imperil his ability to function at all since he is 74 years old and clinically obese. His doctors say that apart from these two factors, he does not suffer from any other conditions which can magnify the effects of the virus. Even though he is being looked after round the clock and being given all kinds of experimental medication such as remdesivir, there is a possibility that he can be the ninth President to die in office.

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The second question on everyone’s mind is that in both these scenarios: whether Trump recovers or not, how would this determine the results of the election. It may be hard to accept for some but whether he lives or dies, the Republicans would triumph, and historians would say that in a perilously close race, corona just nudged the GOP to victory. It is not hard to understand that any leader who is seen to be suffering or is martyred garners sympathy votes, whether for himself or his political successors. Boris Johnson’s approval ratings skyrocketed upwards during the time he was hospitalized after catching the virus. In our own country, the only way Asif Zardari could become President was by riding on the sympathy wagon after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

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Naya Daur