Friday, July 3, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He took his mobile COVID-19 hotspot to South Dakota.

Trump held a campaign rally today in front of South Dakota's Mount Rushmore. Officially, the "Salute to America" was billed as official work, meaning taxpayers picked up the bill, and not Trump's campaign. But his campaign was there in force, including Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is a top advisor to the campaign and his eldest son's girlfriend. 

Guilfoyle announced today that she had tested positive for COVID-19. She had been working on-site in the days leading up to the event, which had been pointedly advertised as being free of any social distancing measures. She's not the only Trump loyalist to become ill doing advance work. Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has been hospitalized since testing positive shortly after Trump's ill-fated Tulsa rally. Six other Trump staffers also tested positive, including two Secret Service agents. 

More agents at the Tulsa rally have reportedly fallen ill since. Some of them were ordered not to get tested until several days later, which would allow for some doubt as to whether any positive tests were the result of the Tulsa rally. (There is no medical reason to delay testing.) 

Vice-President Mike Pence also caused an outbreak among his Secret Service detail and advance team during a different quasi-campaign trip to Arizona. At least eight agents contracted the virus there, and Pence was forced to delay the trip because he had effectively run out of healthy Secret Service agents who had not been in close contact with those who tested positive. Remarkably for the agency, which is famously discreet, staff there are telling reporters about genuine anger at the Trump administration for needlessly exposing agents to the virus.

Trump's rally tonight came in violation of his own official administration guidelines for when it's safe to reopen. By the most charitable interpretation, South Dakota would be in Phase One of the three-phase reopening plan—and even in phase three, large events are still supposed to have "limited physical distancing protocols."

Guilfoyle and anyone she may have passed the virus to are in good company, though. Another 57,000 Americans tested positive today, yet another daily record.

All of this came as Trump is preparing to pivot to a new political framing of the pandemic, now that essentially all hope is lost of containing the virus before a vaccine is developed. As one staffer put it, Trump's new plan is to tell Americans to learn to "live with it."

Why does this matter?

  • The health and safety of the American people is more important than Donald Trump's need for attention.
  • That includes the Americans whose job it is to keep Trump safe even at the risk of their own lives.