Unfortunately, President Trump, who has downplayed the dangers of the novel coronavirus, doesn’t seem to have been chastened by his experience as a COVID-19 patient.
Trump, who has said he has never made a mistake in his life, now says COVID-19 isn’t as bad as people say, and continues to suggest safety measures aren’t necessary.
We’re glad that the president didn’t suffer the most severe symptoms; it’s known that in some people they are so light that they don’t even know they’re infected. But the death toll makes it clear that many people aren’t as lucky as Trump, who reportedly suffered a high fever and at least once required oxygen because his lungs weren’t supplying enough to his body. We also note that the president has access to top physicians and treatments that many Americans can’t get. His doctors say he received a mixture of experimental anti-viral medications and a steroid to help toughen up his lungs.
More importantly, we hope that realization awakens state governors and other officials who have taken their cues from the president and erred on the side of economic growth instead on the side of safety. Several of those officials, including Texas’ own Gov. Greg Abbott, have been forced to reimpose restrictions on public gatherings after premature reopening led to increases in new COVID-19 cases — and deaths.
To be fair, the problem facing the governor, and even our more local leaders, is challenging and historic. Missteps are almost certain as public leaders are criticized by people on both sides of the argument — with business owners threatening lawsuits and others demanding greater restrictions remain in place.
For our part, we must remember that election to public office doesn’t bestow officials with special wisdom or expertise. We select people from our own ranks to lead our political administrations. Donald Trump is not a doctor; he is a building contractor and media personality. The Bushes were oil magnates; Ronald Reagan was an actor; Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer and Harry Truman was a haberdasher. While in office they might have access to the top experts in various fields, they can’t be expected to have the same expertise as those who have devoted years of study to their fields.
Thus, when medical experts offer advice and information that conflicts with that of politicians whose professional expertise is in another area, it’s wisest to listen to the experts.
Had the president done so, perhaps he might have avoided the current surge of COVID-19 that is sweeping through the White House, infecting the president and first lady and more than a dozen other administration officials and requiring Trump to spend three days in the hospital. The entire Joint Chiefs of Staff — the top brass and brain trust of every U.S. military force — is under quarantine after two of them met with a Coast Guard admiral who has tested positive for the virus.
It’s long past time for our top officials — and all Americans — to listen more closely to medical doctors.