As the coronavirus pandemic surges in states that embraced his calls for aggressive early openings, US President Donald Trump is mocking the very measures that might mitigate a crisis about which he is constantly in denial.
Trump said at his weekend rally that he had told his staff to slow down testing for the disease, which has now killed nearly 120,000 Americans, to hide the discovery of more cases.
Claims by his advisers that he was joking hardly lessen the questionable motives behind the remark.
Trump has meanwhile also helped to turn the wearing of masks, which is proven to slow transmission of the disease, into a culture war issue. And his rally in Oklahoma on Saturday night was a rebuke of the notion of social distancing -- even though, ironically, his smaller-than-expected crowd would have made such practices possible.
Cases spike: Health experts warn that spikes in infections in states like Florida and Arizona -- both of which recorded new highs in daily infection rates over the weekend -- are being driven by the public's waning willingness to avoid large gatherings and a reticence to wear masks.
Long-term threat: The President's poor example represents a typical effort to divide Americans and highlight divisions over specific issues for his own political gain. But in the long run, apart from putting thousands of lives at risk, it is counterproductive, since a more stringent effort to avoid rises in infections as states open up would likely promote the fast economic recovery on which Trump is banking a reelection campaign that has slipped into trouble in recent weeks.
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