Though early concerns about the availability of protective gear for hospital workers caused medical advisers to caution against ordinary people buying up the few available masks, by late March the CDC had already informed the White House that routine wearing of masks by everyone was necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. At his very next public appearance, Donald Trump talked about masks … and immediately said that he was not going to wear one. From that day all the way to the debate, Trump has scoffed at wearing masks. Even when the White House guidelines were most stringent, Trump decided to give himself an exception.
And since Trump didn’t wear masks, other White House officials reported that they also felt pressured not to wear masks. That effect could be seen at countless events over the last nine months, as Trump’s team marched on and off Air Force One, or through the halls of the White House, with very few masks in sight. It was absolutely visible on Saturday, when Trump’s introduction of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was a mask-free affair.
Trump’s resistance to wearing a mask was absolutely on display at the debate Tuesday night, where he made fun of Joe Biden for following CDC guidelines.
Trump: “I wear a mask when needed, when needed I wear masks. I don’t wear a mask like him. Everytime 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.”
Right now, everyone at the Trump White House seems to be making a big assumption that Hope Hicks was the vector by which COVID-19 entered their ranks. In truth, Hicks was just the first of Trump’s staff to test positive. That doesn’t mean she was the first to acquire the disease. The fact that both Donald Trump and Melania Trump tested positive immediately following Hicks’ test result suggests that this was nothing more than an artifact of when people were tested. Of course, that’s assuming that rumors that Hicks had already received a positive test result before everyone bundled onto a plane Wednesday are untrue. If they are true … there’s far more wrong with these people than COVID-19. But then, we already knew that.
The fact is that Donald Trump has resisted wearing a mask since the CDC issued guidelines seven months ago. His continued refusal to wear masks has created a culture in which wearing a mask is seen as somehow being “anti-Trump.” It’s led to hundreds of cases of people shoving their way into stores while refusing to put on a masks, to protests against mask mandates, and to states and localities refusing to issue mask mandates even when the situation is dire.
It’s led to a White House culture where refusing to wear a mask is a way to show loyalty to Trump, and in which Republicans repeatedly appear at events without masks. That’s true at Trump rallies. That’s true at formal events.
It doesn’t matter which visitor to the White House, or member of the White House staff, brought COVID-19 to Donald Trump. Because he caused his own disease. Trump is the vector by which the disease spread to himself and his wife, to Hicks and to any other members of his team who are infected. More than that, Trump is the vector by which COVID-19 has spread to millions of Americans. His continued disdain for wearing masks, safe social distancing, and suspension of large gatherings has directly resulted in widespread illness, and absolutely been the cause for thousands of deaths. Trusting Donald Trump is definitely not good for anyone.