Late last month, three Republican congressmen had close contact with a confirmed carrier of the novel coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Two of those lawmakers — Matt Gaetz and Doug Collins — subsequently met with president Donald Trump.
On Monday, Gaetz and Collins announced that they would be entering self-quarantine as a result of their exposure. Trump did not.
Days later, a top aide to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus. During Bolsonaro’s visit to Florida last week, that aide had met with Trump and Republican senator Rick Scott, among other U.S. officials. In light of his exposure to an infected individual, Scott decided to quarantine himself. Trump not only declined to take that measure, but told reporters that he had “no plans” to so much as take a test for the virus.
On Friday morning, Brazilian newspapers reported that Bolsonaro himself had tested positive for coronavirus. The leader’s son confirmed those reports in an interview with Fox News. Hours later, though, Bolsonaro announced that he had tested negative and his son changed his story. Notably, Trump had even closer contact with his Brazilian counterpart than he did with Bolsonaro’s aide.
Regardless of Bolsonaro’s status, his aide Fabio Wajngarten’s diagnosis is beyond dispute. And on Friday, Miami mayor Francis Suarez, who met with Wajngarten last weekend, tested positive for coronavirus.
And yet, as of this writing, Trump has not announced plans to quarantine himself. Instead, he ostensibly intends to carry on with his normal duties, which include making regular, in-person contact with the Republican Party’s congressional leadership and the highest ranking officials in his own cabinet — a great many of whom are over 65, and thus, face a substantial risk of death if they become infected with the virus.
At a Rose Garden press conference Friday afternoon, Trump was asked multiple times why he had declined to get tested for Covid-19, despite his exposure to a confirmed carrier of the virus. The president first explained that he did not need to get tested because he did not even remember meeting Wajngarten. Minutes later, when he was asked whether it was selfish of him to forgo testing – given that his administration had advised ordinary Americans who had been similarly exposed to do so – Trump said that he actually would be getting tested, but that they still needed to put together the schedule.
Until then, the president is apparently trying to shake hands with as many people as possible.
Even if the president feels no obligation to model socially responsible behavior to his fellow Americans (who are currently being asked to quarantine themselves if they’ve had direct contact with a confirmed carrier of the virus), one would think that he’d at least like to avoid potentially poisoning his entire administration.
But Trump’s sphere of concern apparently does not extend beyond the bounds of his own body.
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