President Donald Trump thinks he’s handling the coronavirus pandemic so well he started dancing at a campaign rally this week.
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, during a debate in Kentucky, had a long laugh when the pandemic was brought up.
And Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, said Monday night: “People don’t die of this disease anymore.”
Great! I guess we can all relax and declare COVID-19 yesterday’s news.
Recently hospitalized with the virus, Trump was onstage at a Monday campaign event in Florida. Masks were optional, even though coronavirus cases are surging in the state. It was an epidemiologist’s worst nightmare come to life.
But for Trump, it was time to celebrate. He did a little dance to “Macho Man” by Village People, a song his campaign might consider researching more carefully. The president looked absurdly triumphant.
The more than 215,000 Americans who died of COVID-19 so far this year could not be reached for comment, though I can’t imagine they were thrilled about the unsavory man dancing on their graves.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell was debating his opponent, Democrat Amy McGrath, in Kentucky on Monday. When McGrath criticized McConnell’s handling of the pandemic, he smiled. Then he started laughing as she spoke, because a virus that has crippled the economy and left millions of Americans unemployed is, apparently, hilarious.
I suppose it’s also funny that, rather than moving heaven and earth to pass a bill to help the aforementioned unemployed Americans, McConnell and his fellow Republican senators are pushing through a new Supreme Court justice, a judge whose very willingness to be confirmed at this moment in time is disqualifying.
I suppose this all is funny. HAH! It’s funny because hundreds of people are still dying each day, thousands are still getting sick and Republican leadership has adopted an attitude of, “Hey, that COVID-19 thing ain’t a big deal. Suck it up, buttercups.”
Giuliani, last seen loosely clinging to reality, assured Trump supporters in Philadelphia that nobody’s dying from COVID-19 anymore, which is akin to telling children to play in the street because nobody’s dying from getting run over by trucks anymore.
Trump’s dance, McConnell’s COVID cackle and Giuliani’s bat-guano medical advice demonstrate a level of irresponsibility not seen since I was in college and drunkenly tried to beat up an oak tree before falling, deservedly, into a ditch.
Let me summarize the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States: NOT GOOD!
Health care resources in Wisconsin are presently being overwhelmed by new coronavirus cases. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Tuesday was the state’s worst day of the pandemic, with 3,279 new cases and 34 deaths.
And Trump is dancing.
On Tuesday, the University of Florida suspended all football activity after several players tested positive for the virus. One day earlier, the team’s head coach said his program was a “model of safety.” A recent study of college athletes who had COVID-19 found 15 percent of them were left with an inflammatory heart condition.
And McConnell is laughing.
Illinois had 2,851 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the seventh consecutive day with more than 2,600 cases. The state also passed the 9,000-death mark Tuesday.
And Giuliani is saying, “People don’t die of this disease anymore.”
In 40 states, the number of coronavirus cases are higher than they were a week before. The number of coronavirus patients in Indiana hospitals is the highest it has been in nearly five months.
And President Trump is dancing, and mocking Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Twitter.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that hospitalizations for COVID-19 are “rising in almost a dozen states — including Ohio and Pennsylvania — raising the specter that increasing death counts will soon follow.”
William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher, told the Post: “A lot of the places being hit are Midwest states that were spared in the beginning. That’s of particular concern because a lot of these smaller regions don’t have the ICU beds and capacity that the urban centers had.”
Yet the president took time Tuesday to retweet a QAnon conspiracy theorist alleging that “Biden and Obama may have had Seal Team 6 killed.” So he’s clearly laser-focused on the pandemic.
A dance. A laugh. An outrageous lie that people don’t die.
That isn’t leadership.
It’s mocking a public health crisis that has impacted millions of American families.
It’s modeling cavalier behavior that all but ensures the virus will continue to spread and people will continue to die.
It’s three foolish and ghoulish men thoughtlessly cheapening the deaths of more than 200,000 souls, and counting.
Rex Huppke is a Chicago Tribune columnist. Readers may send him email at email@example.com.