The president of the United States has tested positive for COVID-19 after he spent months playing down the dangerous outbreak that has killed nearly 209,000 people in the United States. Trump's diagnosis came just hours after he insisted that "the end of the pandemic is in sight."
Now Donald Trump, 74, and First Lady Melania Trump — and possibly others in their inner circle — become the new faces of the novel coronavirus.
Make no mistake: We hope and pray they will all be well. We may strenuously disagree with Trump's ideology, whims and love of creating chaos, but he is America's president, and we do not ever wish him or anyone else illness, suffering or anything less than a full recovery.
But also make no mistake: This was preventable. This was avoidable. This did not have to be a national health crisis.
Trump did not have to make light of this pandemic. He did not have to publicly mock masks — even as recently as Tuesday in a debate with challenger and former vice president Joe Biden.
Trump did not have to hold rallies with no social distancing and few masks. His family in the front row at Tuesday's debate did not have to deliberately remove their masks while the remaining audience continued to wear theirs.
What's more, Trump knew how dangerous and contagious this virus is. We know that because we've heard his voice in on-the-record taped interviews he had with journalist Bob Woodward in early February.
"You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. ... This is deadly stuff." Then between the last days of February and the middle of March, Trump told Americans: "In a couple of days it is gonna be down to close to zero... . Coronavirus. This is the new hoax ... You'll be fine. ... It's gonna 'miraculously' be gone by April once the weather warms up. ... I don't take responsibility at all." On March 19, talking to Woodward again, he said, "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
It seems we, and he, needed to be more panicked. Instead he pushed reopening, and in mid-September he returned to holding crowded indoor rallies. Dare we call them Trump superspreader events?
He also insisted that his staff — and apparently his family, too — not mask up in public view. That was clear at the debate and clear in the video Thursday night and early Friday of Hope Hicks, said to be one of the president's closest aides, marching to and from planes to events this week. Masks make bad optics.
Hicks was symptomatic Tuesday and Wednesday. Her positive test came after she began showing symptoms at the Wednesday rally in Minnesota. She was quarantined on the plane trip back. Still the Trump team took part in scheduled Thursday events.
No, Hicks should not to be thought of as Typhoid Mary. She's not the first Trump aide or close ally to test positive for the virus. Early on, a Trump valet came down with the virus. An aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive in May. Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend tested positive to the virus in July.
What does it mean for Trump's re-election campaign? That remains to be seen.
Trump went to a fund-raising event at his resort in Bedminster the very day he and the First Lady later tested positive. What does it mean for those folks? It remains to be seen.
What does it mean for the people — including Rep. Jim Jordan and Trump's entire family of adult children and their significant others — who were on the plane with him and the First Lady and Hicks? Again, it all remains to be seen.
Here's what we know. Our president and the leader of the free world has COVID-19, according to him and his doctor.
This president is a person who is tested every day — unlike the rest of us in a country where experts have said that half of our coronavirus deaths could have been avoided had Trump acted on the advice he was given early on — including more rigorous testing.
This president is the person who says almost every day that he did more to protect America from the virus than anyone.
Yet he — the most protected person in America and the one who would rarely wear a mask and the one who all too often mocked anyone around him who did — now has COVID-19.
Can there be any wonder why we have failed so badly in dealing with this pandemic?