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Pandemic Irresponsibility Still Rampant in the Midst of Trump’s Positive COVID-19 Test

Wear a mask.

Donald Trump yells with his eyes closed.

News broke late last night that Donald and Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, following news earlier in the evening that Hope Hicks, an adviser who had been in close contact with him over the preceding days, had tested positive. It’s hardly surprising at this point, with his aversion to masks (which he mocked Joe Biden over at Tuesday’s debate) and other precautions, that he’s contracted the virus, much like it’s unsurprising that he and his cronies continued to endanger others right up to news of his own positive test result—and beyond.

For the foreseeable future, Trump will be confined to the White House, participating in campaign events from a distance at most—including hosting a call today with vulnerable senior citizens about coronavirus support—although who knows what will happen if his reportedly mild symptoms worsen. Other than that call, Trump’s schedule for the day, which included a fundraiser and rally, has been cleared, but those mild symptoms were reportedly present at a fundraiser that he attended last night, just hours before he announced his positive test result.

At that fundraiser, one aide said Trump came in contact with as many as 100 people, which is just mind bogglingly irresponsible for someone who knew he had been in contact with someone carrying a dangerous, contagious disease. Although, again, it’s hardly surprising when handling this virus irresponsibly has been Trump’s hallmark:

We still don’t even know when Trump found out he had tested positive, or really much of anything, as the White House is predictably secretive about what’s going on. Even still, Hope Hicks’ positive test should have been reason enough for everyone who had recently had contact with her to quarantine immediately, but Hicks reportedly tested positive on the evening of September 30, after which Trump held a fundraiser in Shorewood, Minnesota, then flew to a rally in Duluth, then traveled with Hicks and others on Thursday before that Thursday fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey, after which New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has urged everyone in attendance to quarantine themselves and get tested—the responsible thing to do.

Trump has long been cavalier about the risk of catching and spreading the novel coronavirus, bragging at the debate about the crowd sizes at his rallies and claiming it was a lack of support, rather than safety, that was keeping Joe Biden from holding similarly sized events. (I hope Joe Biden is being responsible by quarantining and taking every possible precaution after standing on the debate stage, mask-less, with Trump.) And look, he could very well come out of this fine, but not everything is about him. There’s a long list of even just those closest to him who are at risk:

And, predictably, still not all of them are interested in taking appropriate precautions, with Rep. Jim Jordan already reportedly not quarantining after likely exposure and his chief of staff giving a mask-less press briefing despite also being on that list.

Somehow, some still fundamentally fail to grasp the connection between taking precautions and things going well:

All that aside—or, really, because of it—it’s not only Trump’s closest allies, aides, friends, and supporters who have been endangered here. They also all unnecessarily contributed to—and continue to contribute to—the spread of this pandemic, as Donald Trump himself continued his attempt to pivot to reality-averse messaging that the whole thing was already on the way out. People who had nothing to do with Trump’s pandemic denial and flouting of precautions will be hurt by this, and that’s who I feel sorry for the most, as conservatives try to make this about the left not having enough sympathy for a man who mocked Hillary Clinton for having pneumonia in 2016—four years ago today.

I have no “glee” that Donald Trump caught this virus. I’m furious that it wasn’t well enough contained by now to avoid all this, and that it’s still not being taken seriously—and that if Trump winds up with a milder case of it, he’ll use that as an excuse to continue to downplay it and hurt more people.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.