The top staffers of the Trump administration have abetted the president’s coronavirus misinformation campaign — nearly a year long now — to minimize the threat of a pandemic that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans. As a reward, they will be among the first in line to receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that White House staff members, including chief of staff Mark Meadows, have been informed that they will soon receive vaccine shots. The political appointees will join high-risk, frontline medical workers as some of the first Americans to get doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer, which was approved for emergency-use authorization on December 11. It’s not yet known how many doses will be sent to 1600 Pennsylvania, though some officials told the paper that they were concerned that it may send the wrong message if they receive some of the first shots in the elaborate drive to vaccinate the nation.
They’ve probably got the right read on the optics. Though the prospect of top executive employees getting first dibs on the vaccine is all but inevitable, there’s a bit of a karmic imbalance there, considering the administration’s abdication of a public-health response; the risky personal behavior of a White House that has been battling its own COVID outbreaks more or less since October; the stellar treatment that Trump and his top circle of infected advisers have received after contracting the virus, which contrasts sharply with that of many Americans lost to COVID; and the prospect of early vaccinations for people who have already recovered.
Meadows, the top staffer to be named in the report as a vaccine candidate, is a good enough model for the distributional amorality at the White House. Shortly before the election, the chief of staff admitted that the administration is “not going to control the pandemic” and reportedly attempted to cover up the October outbreak in the vice-president’s circle. Shortly after the election, he reportedly went to “great lengths” to keep his own positive test secret and neglected to inform people he interacted with at an indoor, mostly mask-less Election Night party at the White House that he had tested positive just days later.