Trump’s Covid Response Has Always Been Cruel and Unusual

He’s putting the recovery, the nation’s public health, and his own staff at risk

Jill Filipovic
Published in
5 min readOct 7, 2020


Donald Trump returns to White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The day Donald Trump won the presidential election, I knew it would be bad: for women, for immigrants, for the poor and struggling, for people of color, for America’s security and its reputation around the world.

But I didn’t think we’d be hit with a plague. And I certainly didn’t think the president, a notorious germaphobe, would be so reckless with his own health that he would refuse to take basic precautionary measures against the virus, a negligence which would result in him first contracting it and then turning his own body into a bioweapon, loosing himself and his illness on friends and foes alike. But now that this all is happening, the story is a predictable one: The president, who has the best health care in the world, uses his vaunted platform to put millions of lives at risk by telling Americans there’s no need to worry about an infectious disease still sweeping the planet; the president, a man who holds no loyalties and seems to feel no sense of shame or empathy, knowingly puts his family, his staff, and dozens of members of his political party at immediate physical risk; and the president, never one to miss an opportunity, uses a devastating pandemic and economic collapse to stealthily erode civil liberties and basic American values while he utterly fails to protect Americans’ health.

His staffers enable him even as he threatens their health and their lives. His party applauds even while he undermines supposedly cherished democratic traditions and institutions.

Already, Trump has claimed he could be immune to coronavirus, even as he is still infected with it. He took to Twitter to tell his followers, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life” — cold comfort to the 210,000 Americans, and more than one million people worldwide, who have lost their lives to this disease. While he enjoys round-the-clock care that his paltry $750 tax payment is not subsidizing, his administration continues to support a lawsuit now in the Supreme Court that could strip some 20 million Americans of their health insurance and make the one-quarter of Americans with preexisting conditions suddenly unable to find…