By Kate McCormick
Many Americans recall the night of the first presidential debate when President Donald Trump flamed his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for diligently wearing masks amidst a global pandemic, only for the president and first lady to test positive for the coronavirus days later. Since March of this year, countless U.S. citizens have been making sacrifices in the face of COVID-19, ranging in extremity from isolating away from family and friends, missing graduation and milestone celebrations and being forced to say one last goodbye to loved ones via video call as this pandemic rages throughout our country and the world. It has become our civic duty to follow safety precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones. So why is the commander in chief not held to the same standard?
While I am extremely fortunate that I and my family have remained healthy during this global health crisis, starting my first year of college in the middle of a pandemic has proven difficult. Students across the country have opted to take classes online, wear masks on campus and learn using hybrid models — all in the name of slowing the spread of COVID-19. While the American people are making changes to our everyday lives to protect ourselves and others, our president is not setting the same example.
According to an NPR timeline of Trump’s diagnosis and exposure, on Sept. 26 the First Family hosted a ceremony to announce Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. Although the White House has a protocol for coronavirus testing for guests, at least eight people in attendance ended up contracting the virus, including Donald Trump and Melania Trump. It is no surprise that the president had not been keeping up with wearing a mask since the Trump family held several rallies without mask mandates. The most important precautions to adhere to during this pandemic have been wearing a mask, avoiding large groups of people and maintaining social distancing — all of which the president failed to do leading up to his diagnosis.
Trump contracting COVID-19 was brought on by pure negligence on his part, and as millions of Americans scramble to adjust their daily lives, the failure of someone who is supposed to be our leader and set a precedent for our safety is abhorrent. Freshman psychology major Jenna Rosa said that the president was “reckless and careless” in his handling of the pandemic, and perhaps if he “set a good example with mask-wearing and implementing a mask mandate nationwide … he may not have gotten [the virus].” Not only is the president’s failed leadership during this pandemic infuriating, but as the American death toll at the beginning of October surpassed 209,000, as stated by NPR, the audacity of Trump to tell the American people not to be afraid of the virus after he received specialized care that no ordinary citizen would have the privilege to access is appalling.
My president had COVID-19, not in the way of a tragic diagnosis that so many Americans have experienced even after taking every precaution, but as a direct result of his failure to protect our country. A president is supposed to set a positive example for their constituents and be the first one to follow the rules set in place for the public’s best interest, not the other way around. Partisanship aside, it is unacceptable that Donald Trump evaded his duty to keep Americans safe during a global pandemic — this being evident in his diagnosis.