On Monday, October 5, Trump tweeted that he would be leaving the hospital that evening after spending a weekend there following his COVID-19 diagnosis. The message not only confirmed his anticipated release, it also raised controversy. Here are five things that are wrong with Trump’s tweet about leaving the hospital.
1. It’s written from a single, very privileged experience
President Trump has access to some of the world’s best doctors, medicine, and equipment. Not to mention his own private Presidential Suite.
He also doesn’t have to worry about paying for any of it. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the United States (and the world). The U.S. does not provide universal health care, and many citizens don’t have health insurance.
In 2019, approximately 8% of the population—26.1 million Americans—lacked health insurance in the U.S. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 8 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country. If any one of those diagnosed happens to fall under the 26.1 million that lack health insurance, they will have to pay an average cost of $30,000 if they end up being treated in a hospital. The Trump administration did pass a federal coronavirus relief package to cover such costs for uninsured Americans, but this plan is flawed. Many patients are not aware of it, and hospitals are either confused by the plan or choose not to participate at all.
2. It’s disrespectful
“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” Stating that one should not be afraid of Covid, or that one should not let Covid determine their life, is hugely disrespectful to anyone experiencing the physical, personal, or socioeconomic consequences of the virus.
For millions of people, the danger of getting diagnosed with COVID-19 is a daily concern. Among adults, the risk of becoming really sick as a result of COVID-19 increases with age. These people may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe—they may even die. The same goes for everyone with underlying health issues and/or medical conditions.
For everyone else, life doesn’t exactly continue as normal. It’s very likely that you know someone who has suffered from COVID-19, or you might have lost a loved one to the disease. An event like that can disrupt your life and mental health.
There are also the impending economic consequences. Within the United States the unemployment rate—which Trump so proudly credits himself for—increased from 3.8% in February (among the lowest on record in the post-World War II era) to 13% in May. In fact, unemployment rose higher during the three months of COVID-19, than it did in two years of the Great Recession.
3. It’s untrue
The U.S., under the Trump administration, has not developed any (new) ‘great drugs.’ Most of the proven-effective drugs, such as remdesivir, already existed and are simply being prescribed in different doses or new combinations. What the U.S. is doing, is buying huge imports of said drugs. Just two months ago, the U.S. bought nearly all of Gilead’s (a large pharmaceutical company) drug remdesivir.
Although not mentioned by Trump, the U.S. is not developing many ‘great’ vaccines either. As of October 5, only two American pharmaceutical companies are involved in developing the four most advanced (meaning they’re most ahead in trials) vaccines. The U.S. is mostly active in buying vaccines from foreign companies: In May, for instance, Trump “offered large sums of money” to a German pharmaceutical company for exclusive US access.
4. It’s misused
Trump could have left the words “Trump Administration” out of this tweet, but he chose not to. He seems to want to emphasize the competence of his administration and consequently to improve his position in the 2020 presidential elections.
COVID-19 and the management thereof will be, according to both left- and right-wing U.S. media, a deciding factor in these elections. Right now, the polls seem to favor Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, who has consistently emphasized the danger of the virus. By continuing to downplay the virus even after being infected, Trump may hope to tip the scales in his favor.
But he could be putting the safety of his country’s citizens at stake doing so. Trump’s excursion on Sunday to greet supporters who had gathered outside his hospital, for instance, was a clear break of quarantine protocol. Yet for his supporters, CBS correspondent Major Garett said, Trump’s acknowledgement of his fans “will be reassuring and motivating even though scientifically, and medically, it raises a great number of questions.”
5. It’s dangerous
“Feeling really good!”
If Trump only used this sentence, it would have been fine.
But he chose to add:
“I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
This sentence sounds like it came straight out of a diet campaign. It almost suggests he’s recommending COVID-19. He makes it seem like getting diagnosed with COVID-19 will result in improved health.
This is a virus which, at the time of writing this article, has infected 35.6 million people worldwide and killed over a million. This fact alone already proves the virus’ severity.
But scientists also still know little about its long-term effects. The lingering effects that patients have experienced—such as ‘brain fog,’ shortness of breath, and even heart failure—are by all means alarming.
While we remain unsure, we ought to be cautious. While we remain unsure, we ought not to share tweets that are privileged, disrespectful, untrue, misused, and dangerous.