Remember when Donald Trump — drunk with his own grandiose visions of winning a landslide re-election after besting COVID-19 with the very best health care our country has to offer — boasted that the novel coronavirus wasn't really so bad and, what's more, it would be gone the day after the election when Democrats would no longer be able to cry "COVID, COVID, COVID" to hurt him politically?
Here we are nearly two weeks after the election that Trump decidedly lost by more than 5 million votes, and not only is COVID-19 not gone, it's on a rampage — a rampage that has nothing to do with Democrats supposed crying of COVID, COVID, COVID.
Public health officials announced more than 160,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, an alarming new record that came just over a week after the country first experienced 100,000 cases in a single day. As a matter of fact, more than 100,000 coronavirus cases have been announced nationwide every day since Nov. 4, and six of the last nine days have broken the previous record.
Tennessee and Hamilton County are among the red spots on America's COVID-19 map. So is Whitfield County in Georgia. And nearby Jackson County in Alabama.
Hamilton County is averaging 174 new COVID-19 cases a day and a 13.9% positivity rate for new tests in the past week after the third straight day of more than 210 new infections reported by the health department. Since the pandemic began, 120 Hamilton County residents have died from coronavirus.
As of Friday morning, COVID, COVID, COVID was blamed for more than 240,000 deaths. There have been over 10.4 million confirmed infections in the U.S.
Several states — and Hamilton County — are leaning again toward virtual school. Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama football fans were left with no teams to cheer for over the weekend as virus sidelined players and the games were canceled. Experts continue to warn us against the usual extended family and friends Thanksgiving celebrations and tell us to expect a dark winter because of disregard for mask-wearing and other precautions, the onset of cold weather and crowded holiday gatherings.
None of this has anything to do with Democrats supposedly crying COVID, COVID, COVID. The virus doesn't care about politics.
But it does have a lot to do with Trump's inaction. Despite his loss in the election, Trump has the admiration of 33% to 40% of our country. If 72.6 million people voted for him this year, that's a possible 72.6 million people who took cues from him to spurn common-sense masking and social distancing.
From February to now, our president has had to be goaded into doing the little bit that he has done to prepare the country — pushed as Biden on the campaign trail week after week gave him a playbook by talking about what he would do if he were president.
Even then, Trump mocked stay-home advice, masks, social distancing and the virus itself. He and Vice President Mike Pence tried to take credit for the recent Pfizer announcement of promising vaccine research, though Pfizer quickly said it was deliberately never part of the government's "Operation Warp Speed."
Repeatedly Trump held superspreader events and rallies both at the White House and on the road where neither he nor his staff nor most of his supporters complied with his own administration's COVID-19 guidelines. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told Americans nine days before the election: "We're not going to control the virus." And last week, a dozen new cases were confirmed in a second outbreak among people in Trump's inner circle, especially those who attended an election night party in the White House — among them, Meadows.
Now, as Trump hunkers down in the White House to pout over losing and to plot frivolous lawsuits and far-fetched strategies to stay in power, more than 1 million new cases of the virus have been confirmed in the 10 days since the millions of us went to the polls. Millions — especially Trump supporters — voted in person at those polls because Trump said no one should use mail-in ballots. He said that mail-in ballots increased "widespread" fraud, though there is absolutely no evidence that it's true, and plenty of evidence that it's not.
Now, here we are: On average more than 1,000 Americans are dying of COVID-19 each day. And the "dark winter" is not yet upon us.
But Donald Trump doesn't even tweet about those lost souls or those rising illnesses. He doesn't speak any public words of encouragement to a public being warned against gathering in the holidays. He merely touts his imaginary successes or rages.
No, the virus didn't go away. Nor was it a political ploy lobbed by Democrats to harm Donald Trump's re-election chances. The president did that all by himself.
COVID, COVID, COVID was and is a real and dangerous disease that Trump, as president, never took seriously.
A virus like this would have been — and will be — a challenge for any president. But it was especially a challenge for Donald Trump, who has clearly never been able to focus on anything or anyone other than himself. He failed to meet the challenge.