Commentary: What The President’s Response To His Coronavirus Diagnosis Says To Hard-Hit Communities Of Color

“He flouts laws, he flouts science. He can flout this disease. But we can see that so many other people have not been able to do that. And what they wanted from the president was leadership. They wanted resources.”

By Laura RiceOctober 7, 2020 11:51 am, ,

President Trump tweeted Monday that he was feeling, “better than I did 20 years ago!” before he left Walter Reed Medical Center after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Trump reportedly received an experimental antibody cocktail to help him fight off the effects of COVID-19. He’s also been given a steroid drug usually reserved for those with the most severe symptoms. Now, he’s being monitored at the White House.

Though we don’t know all the details, it’s fair to say the President’s COVID-19 treatment experience has been different than it has for almost all of the more than 7 million other Americans who’ve been infected.

Professor Peniel Joseph is a regular Texas Standard commentator. He is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. He’s also a professor a history and the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

While Joseph says it’s no surprise any United States president would get exceptional treatment for any ailment, he’s disappointed in the Trump administration’s steps and messaging since his diagnosis.

“While I empathize with the fact that he has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, I think it’s really remarkable that his downplaying of this virus has so impacted so many different communities who aren’t going to be able to go to Walter Reed and get the kind of medical attention that he’s been able to get,” Joseph said. “I think it’s really remarkable, even what the White House has done in the aftermath of the diagnosis. They’re not doing the contact tracing. They’re not really doing what even the CDC guidelines call for.”

Joseph says it’s worth remembering that the pandemic has impacted communities of color especially hard in terms of unemployment and access to education as well as in health outcomes.

“So those of us who had more access to both medical intervention, we had more access to employment or wealth, we’re able to ride that storm in different ways than so many people who’ve died alone, who’ve died away from loved ones, who have not been able to have funerals, not been able to have wakes. So there’s been a lot of pain,” Joseph said. “And I hoped that in the aftermath of that diagnosis that the president would at least be able to convey some empathy for the so many lives that have been lost during this crisis. But instead, we see him risking the Secret Service, wading into crowds, taking off the mask, and not being the kind of example, an exemplar that you would want the commander in chief to be at a moment of such crisis.”

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