Is Trump Already Over Social Distancing? | Vanity Fair

Donald Trump spent months ignoring warnings from public health experts and his own intelligence agencies, minimizing the coronavirus threat to the United States as the disease ravaged the globe. Now, after briefly trying to convince Americans he was taking the pandemic seriously this whole time, he’s signaling that he’ll soon go right back to disregarding health officials, even as confirmed cases skyrocket and deaths continue to rise.

In an all-caps tweet just before midnight Sunday, the president indicated that he may soon abandon the drastic measures health experts say are necessary to limiting the virus’s spread, frustrated at the economic impact of social distancing. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump wrote in the late-night missive. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

The two week directive urging limits on social gatherings and closures of schools and non-essential businesses is seen as a necessary first step to blunting the rapid spread of COVID-19, but experts like Anthony Fauci have said the social distancing measures would likely need to go on longer. But who needs experts when you have Fox News hosts? Steve Hilton on Sunday suggested that the “cure is worse than the disease,” with the health measures inflicting undue damage on the economy. Hours later, Trump echoed Hilton—much to the pleasure of his right-wing base, whose praise he retweeted Monday. “Which is worse, the illness or our ‘fix’?” Republican Representative Jody Hice pondered Monday morning. “Americans stand up to challenges. Don’t succumb to fear! Trust in God. Protect yourself and others, and move forward!” Another Fox News host, Laura Ingraham, tweeted that doctors “should not be the determinative voices in policy making now or at the end of 15 days.”

The idea of curbing social distancing runs counter to the advice of public health experts, including Trump’s own surgeon general, but reflects the thinking of some Republican lawmakers and White House aides, who the New York Times reported Monday have expressed concern that “medical experts were allowed to set policy that has hurt the economy.” Trump had been reticent to take significant action in the face of the coronavirus threat, apparently worried that it could hurt his reelection campaign. As the threat blossomed into a full-blown crisis, however, he grudgingly reversed course, acknowledging the virus was “bad,” insisting he’d always taken it seriously, and has followed some of the recommendations of public health experts. But according to the Times, Trump has now become frustrated with Fauci, thanks to the doctor’s proclivity for contradicting the president’s own empty assurances and snake oil cures with, well, actual health advice.

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