Shortly before he was released from the hospital, after receiving world-class, cutting-edge care, the president tweeted, “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
A generous interpretation - although, really, what cause has Donald Trump given us to generously interpret his tweets? - might be that the president thought Americans might find him (and several of his high-ranking aides and allies) contracting COVID to be unsettling, or even fear-inducing. Perhaps he intended his tweet to be reassuring.
However, for many, the president’s tweet, boasting that he feels better than he has in decades, served primarily to underscore the stark realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve known for some time that factors like classism, racism, queer-phobia, and fat-phobia have measurable effects on health outcomes for people in marginalized communities, and the pandemic is no exception to that. The communities that this president has targeted with oppressive policies since the day he stepped into the Oval Office are the same communities made most vulnerable to the pandemic that he has downplayed, lied about, and mismanaged for months on end.
A homeless trans woman who has been living in unsafe conditions in a city-provided motel room during the pandemic won’t be treated in a six-room hospital suite with a crystal chandelier if she tests positive for COVID. An undocumented immigrant who works for cash and doesn’t have health insurance won’t be given experimental treatments if they go to the hospital for COVID. One of the 8 million Black Americans who live below the poverty line won’t be going home to a house with a fully equipped medical unit if they’re discharged after treatment for COVID. But President Trump, who has actively pursued policies that directly harm these communities, benefits from all of that and more and has the audacity to tell us not to be afraid because he is “feeling really good!”