NEW YORK, Oct 06 (APP): US health experts and critics responded to President Donald Trump’s tweet to not “be afraid of Covid”, calling the message “preposterous” and “dangerous” for the leader of a nation that has surpassed 210,000 deaths to the deadly virus.
President Trump returned to the White House Monday evening, despite still being infected with COVID-19, just three days after he arrived at Walter Reed hospital near Washington with coronavirus symptoms that caused doctors to administer oxygen.
Trump, who received around-the-clock care at the hospital and therapies not widely available to most patients experiencing mild symptoms, advised his followers to not let COVID-19 “dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge.”
The Republican president, running for re-election against Democrat Joe Biden in the Nov 3 US election, was admitted to the hospital on Friday.
Biden, his challenger, responded to the tweet in an interview with a TV channel in Miami, Florida, saying, “I saw a tweet he did, they showed me, he said ‘don’t let COVID control your life.’ Tell that to the 205,000 families that lost somebody.”
“‘Don’t be afraid of Covid’ is an evil thing to say to those of us who lost our loved ones to Covid 19,” Ilhan Omar, a Democratic congresswoman whose father died from complications of Covid-19, wrote on Twitter. “This man is unfit to be President, he lacks the compassion and humanity it takes to lead our country.”
Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University in Atlanta, responded to the president’s post with one of his own: “Are you telling the relatives of 210,000 Americans who have died of #COVID19 not to be afraid? Please tell everyone the truth once and for all, this is serious & #WearAMask You didn’t and got infected.”
Julian Castro, a former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, wrote: “More than 200,000 American lives have been lost to Covid-19. The president himself and countless staff have been infected. Yet, nine months into the pandemic, the president’s advice is ‘don’t be afraid of Covid.’”
Several Republicans embraced Trump’s dismissive message. Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican, tweeted: “COVID stood NO chance against @realDonaldTrump” and shared a doctored video of the president in a wresting match with the virus.
And Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida posted: “President Trump won’t have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump.”
Many Democrats noted that Trump has access to better health care than most Americans. Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, reacted to the president’s tweet by posting “tell that to all the Americans who – unlike you – DON’T have access to the best healthcare in the world, funded entirely by taxpayers.”
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut went further, noting reports showing that Mr Trump had paid little or no federal income tax in recent years.
“Don’t be afraid, says the guy with a team of a dozen doctors, access to experimental treatments that no one else gets, a four room hospital suite, who lives in a house with top doctors on site 24/7,” he wrote on Twitter. “All of which is provided to him for free because he refuses to pay taxes.”
“In all seriousness, the President’s incompetence has already gotten 200,000 killed,” he added. “The consequences of this tweet will probably kill a couple thousand more. Just bone chilling.”
David Axelrod, senior advisor to former president Barack Obama, called Trump a “Super Spreader of dangerous untruths.” He pleaded with people to “not follow his advice” and to “BE afraid of COVID, and act accordingly.
The doctor overseeing President Trump’s care, Dr Sean Conley, was asked about the president’s tweet at a news conference on Monday afternoon at Walter Reed.
“I’m not going to get into what the president says,” he said at the briefing, where he had also noted that the president was not “out of the woods yet” in his fight against Covid-19.