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Donald Trump’s Video Message Not to Fear Coronavirus Draws the Mockery It So Deserves

Donald Trump, still sick with COVID-19, tells the public not to fear the disease.

Donald Trump made his way back to the White House last night after a short stint in the hospital with COVID-19, and of course, he couldn’t resist spinning the fact that the virus hasn’t killed him personally into propaganda. He, once again, took off his mask to deliver a videotaped statement along the lines of the awful preview tweet he sent out beforehand, and it seems that all he’s done is open himself up to even more mockery.

In the video, following comical footage of him arriving via helicopter set to melodramatic music (particularly silly considering he’s still sick and could very well still get worse), Trump tells the public that he’s feeling great due to all the COVID treatments he received, so they shouldn’t fear the coronavirus and should get “back to work.”

The internet quickly pounced on the fundamental ridiculousness of a man who’s still sick claiming victory and who tries to portray his unnecessarily reckless actions and eschewing of reasonable precautions as brave leadership, rather than arrogance that’s made everything worse and put us further from his stated goals.

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump could, in fact, come out of this fine, as he claims to be. It’s entirely possible that his trip to the hospital and aggressive, experimental treatments were merely the kind of extreme precautions you’d expect to be taken for the president, while your everyday person would’ve been sent home—which just makes it even more awful that he’s trying to spin this as an outcome the rest of us should go by. It’s also possible that, even if that’s not the case and he’s fairly ill, he will still turn out fine.

But none of that makes it OK to go around pretending that nothing is wrong and this is no worse than the flu, which he’s already back to saying in a factually incorrect tweet this morning, and using his personal experience to encourage others to act recklessly and endanger themselves and others. His tweet claims the flu kills sometimes over 100,000 people in a year, which is just not true in the U.S. (although I’m sure he’ll claim to have meant worldwide if called on it, despite how that would make no sense), according to CDC data—and, again, COVID-19 has already killed over 200,000 in the U.S. with all the precautions we’ve taken, despite Trump’s attacks.

If we had treated it the same way we treat the flu every year, as he claims we should, that number would be much, much higher, and it would have taken a catastrophic toll on our healthcare system that would have led to countless other issues and deaths. Trump knows that. He told Bob Woodward as much in interviews back at the start of all this, and while he claims that the reason for the difference in his private knowledge and public comments is reducing panic, there’s a world of difference between reassuring the public that we can get through this together to reduce panic, and telling them not to let it “dominate” their lives and that we need to get back to work.

Context matters, and we know that with those words, he’s intentionally demeaning important precautions that frankly haven’t even worked as well as they could have because he’s been undermining them.

Of course, we all knew he would do this. He’ll put on this show unless and until he literally falls down incapacitated in the process—still a possibility, since COVID-19 tends to be a lingering illness that can get worse suddenly as it goes on, particularly in its second week—it’s kind of a tradition:

(image: screengrab)

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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.