If there’s one thing that has been consistent during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is President Trump’s steadfast denial of the seriousness of the virus and his relentless mockery of people who take precautions. He called out his opponent Joe Biden for wearing a mask as recently as this week at the first presidential debate and has held rally after rally in closed spaces, potentially exposing tens of thousands of people to the virus. Even after hearing his aide Hope Hicks had contracted the virus on Thursday night, he told an event, “the end of the pandemic is in sight.”
From the beginning, Trump has belittled, berated, and bullied the cautious while taking great risks that have finally caught up to him with the announcement of his positive diagnosis early Friday morning.
In March, he called COVID-19 fears an invention by the Democratic Party. “Now, the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” he told reporters in March. “This is their new hoax.”
In early May, he asked Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason to take off his mask at a press conference in late May. “Can you take it off? Because I cannot hear you,” Trump said. When Mason said he would just speak louder, Trump retorted, “OK, because you want to be politically correct.”
“No sir, I just want to wear the mask,” Mason retorted.
By June, he had singlehandedly turned masks into a political statement by first mocking Democratic presidential hopefuls for wearing them. He also chided his Republican frenemy Mitt Romney for going into self-isolation after being exposed to the virus through Rand Paul (R-KY).
In June, he tweeted that his indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, “had no negative effect.” A few weeks later, former Republican 2016 rival Herman Cain, who attended the event, died after contracting the virus.
As the death toll in the U.S. crept toward 200,000 in early September, he relentlessly attacked Biden for taking precautions against the highly contagious virus. “Did you ever see a man who likes a mask as much as him?” he said at an early September rally. “It gives him a feeling of security.”
On Thursday night, just hours after learning that his faithful senior consultant Hope Hicks—with whom he and Melania Trump spent time in close quarters a day earlier—tested positive for COVID-19, Trump refused to share the news.
A day later, he spoke at the virtual Al Smith charity dinner for Catholics, to whom he promised the coronavirus crisis was nearly over. “And I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight,” Trump said. “And next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country.”