US President Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail a mere 11 days after announcing that he tested positive for COVID-19. Eager to solidify support and downplay the threat of the coronavirus, Trump’s maskless machismo led him to Florida – a state that could make or break his reelection campaign – where he boldly announced that he was not only “immune” to the coronavirus but felt “powerful.”
Trump felt so powerful, in fact, that he threatened to kiss many of the people at his rally. “I’ll kiss everyone in that audience,” Trump said, his voice sounding slightly hoarse. “I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women. Just give you a big fat kiss.” Yikes!
Trump did not wear a mask to the rally, even when he wasn't speaking. According to the New York Times, he didn’t wear one while boarding Air Force One before leaving Washington DC either, further supporting the idea that Trump believes himself to be immune despite there being no conclusive scientific backing. Similar demonstrations of recklessness could be seen in the tightly packed audience. As supporters watched Trump speak for a little over an hour at a hangar at Orlando Sanford International Airport, many did not wear masks as they shouted and cheered.
Aside from insisting that he feels better than ever, Trump’s talking points largely remained the same. He downplayed the coronavirus, promised to save the country from the “radical left,” and mocked Joe Biden for taking safety precautions against the virus. Trump also dedicated time during his speech to re-state platforms he also ran on in 2016 including dehumanising immigrants and building a wall he (falsely) says Mexico is paying for.
But Trump's assertion's that he is immune enough to kiss audience members is pure bravado. Shortly after Trump left Washington, White House physician Sean Conley released a memo claiming that the president had tested negative for the coronavirus more than once. Between consecutive negative tests and data collected by the White House doctors, Conley believes that Trump is not infectious. But according to the NYT, doctors used a rapid antigen coronavirus test which is not intended to diagnose whether someone is still contagious. Experts question the test’s accuracy, cautioning that it had not been investigated enough to confidently say that Trump is virus-free.
What's next for our self-proclaimed "immune" president? In the coming days, Trump’s campaign will take him to Pennsylvania, Iowa, and North Carolina — all are considered swing states. While support in these US states could go either way, one thing we can say with near absolute certainty is that we don’t expect Trump to wear a mask in any of them.