Canada

President Donald Trump playing politics with the pandemic: experts

It’s been roughly five months since the United States was first introduced to a novel coronavirus, which would become commonly known as COVID-19 — the name of the disease caused by the virus.

Since then, a health crisis not seen in more than a century has become more and more politicized.

American cities and states have been forced to grapple with a constant unknown — exactly when this virus is going to spike or subside, leaving businesses, lawmakers and residents to approach each situation in one of two ways: with caution or defiance.

Read more: Hundreds protest in Michigan as governor seeks to extend coronavirus lockdown

Social distancing measures have been at the forefront of the attempt to slow the spread, and have been met with headwinds from lawmakers who feel government shouldn’t be telling people what to do.

Story continues below advertisement

Like wear a mask.

Experts say U.S. President Donald Trump has turned the simple mitigation effort into a divisive political football, volleying back-and-forth on whether or not he thinks Americans should wear a mask while remaining steadfast in his inability to wear one in public.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump says he wore face mask during factory tour, ‘didn’t want to give press pleasure’ of actually seeing it
Coronavirus outbreak: Trump says he wore face mask during factory tour, ‘didn’t want to give press pleasure’ of actually seeing it

“The fact that Trump is not wearing a mask fits his coalition beautifully,” says Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “They’re strongly anti-government. They’re opposed to rules from on high,” Sabato added, who noted that to Trump’s male supporters, “this is a question of machismo. Are they manly enough to go out without a mask on?”

Health experts fear the act of turning a potentially life-saving effort, like wearing a face-covering, into a political matter can lead to confusion in the general public.

Story continues below advertisement

“It makes people feel (that) if they put a mask on, potentially they are defying the president,” said Sara Bleich, a public health policy professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Trump has said in the past that people who wear a mask could be doing so just to “signal disapproval” of him, but then changed his tune during an interview with Fox Business when he proclaimed he’s “all for masks.” Trump also admitted he would wear a mask in a small group setting.

Read more: You might be wearing your mask, gloves wrong. How to use PPE properly

To date, Donald Trump has never been in front of a camera with a face-covering.

Trending Stories

“If he were to do that simple thing, it would really encourage people to actually do the right thing,” said Bleich, echoing a comment from Lamar Alexander, a Republican and chair of the Senate Committee on Health, who said, “it would help if from time-to-time the president would wear one to help us get rid of this political debate.”

In the early weeks and months of this pandemic, masks were nearly non-existent during press briefings involving the president. Things started to change as the country experienced a significant second outbreak during this first wave. Lawmakers, notably Republicans, began to cover their faces when in public.

Story continues below advertisement

Coronavirus: Republican Senate leader urges use of masks in public

The break in ranks within the GOP has left Trump as the odd man out, at a time when he needs as much public support as he can get. The 2020 election is fast approaching, and polls have put Democratic front-runner Joe Biden upwards of 10 points ahead of Trump.

Biden has repeatedly been seen wearing a mask but faces a firestorm of insults and comments for doing so, including in late May when he wore a black face-covering while attending a Memorial Day ceremony. That led to a comment from Trump that his political rival looked “unusual,” adding “he was standing outside with his wife, perfect conditions, perfect weather. They’re inside, they don’t wear masks.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Biden calls Trump a “fool” for retweet making fun of him wearing a mask

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has urged Americans to “wear cloth face coverings in public settings,” saying it prevents spread “especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

Story continues below advertisement

There’s a strong party-line divide when it comes to wearing a mask in the United States. One study shows that more than seven in 10 Democrats (or 70 per cent) admit to wearing a mask when outdoors or in stores, compared to just 56 per cent of Republicans.

“It’s very concerning that something like a mask has somehow become an ideological partisan symbol instead of what it is, which is it literally saves your life,” said Dr. Leana Wen, former public health commissioner for the City of Baltimore.

Read more: WHO recommends wearing masks in public, in updated guidelines

Concern has now prompted several states and municipalities, including some with Republican leaders, to implement a mask policy. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been seen in public with a face covering, has told all cities in his state that are reporting at least 20 cases to make masks mandatory. Heavily populated tourist areas including Myrtle Beach and Knoxville, Tenn., have also put similar policies in place.

No federal mandate exists in the United States to wear a mask; it is simply recommended by leading public health experts, including the surgeon general. That can muddy any effort to ensure public safety is a number one priority.

“Bottom line, this is not a confusing issue. We are in a pandemic. And if we want to prevent this pandemic and get people back to work and get kids back to school, people have to put their masks on,” said Bleich.

View link »

Story continues below advertisement

Football news:

Pirlo took charge of Juventus
Toni Kroos: No criticisms from the Board. He had an outstanding season
Director of Bayer Feller: there is no discount On Havertz because of the coronavirus. Buy on our terms
Cristiano Ronaldo: for Juve, the season ended earlier than we expected. The fans are demanding more
Juventus will appoint Pirlo as head coach (Fabrizio Romano)
Arthur plans to attend the Barcelona-Napoli match in the Champions League
Vinicius is upset that he doesn't play enough in Real life. PSG are actively monitoring the player