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Trump’s lack of honesty on Covid hangs over his reelection bid

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s refusal to tell America the truth about the pandemic in a bid to save his political skin, on display at a potential super-spreader rally in Iowa on Wednesday night, is fostering a vacuum in national leadership and crucial public health mobilization as a winter of sickness and death looms.Trump is touting his own recovery from Covid-19 with a cocktail of expensive experimental therapies available to almost no one else in the world as proof there is nothing to fear from a disease that has killed more than 216,000 Americans.The President, 19 days before the election, is trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes by arguing the pandemic is almost over, in the hope they won’t hold him to account for his poor management of the crisis. On Wednesday, he used his own rebound — and the symptom-free experience of his son Barron, who also tested positive — to yet again downplay the virus.»Open your states!» Trump said at a rally at which Air Force One formed a backdrop.»The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,» he said, and again wildly claimed that his own strength meant he probably didn’t need the cutting-edge therapies he was given in the hospital at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.»Maybe I would have been perfect anyway,» Trump said.The government’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who Trump has repeatedly attacked in recent days, said Wednesday that although he was glad the President had recovered, his case should not be seen as indicative of everyone who gets infected.»That’s sort of like saying somebody was speeding in a car at 95 miles an hour and didn’t get in an accident, so I can go ahead and speed and not get in an accident,» Fauci told «CBS Evening News.»In the real world, rather than Trump’s fantasy version, the pandemic is getting worse quickly. Average daily infections are at more than 51,000. The disease that the President says should no longer «dominate» American life is killing more than 700 citizens a day. The high baseline of cases that is the legacy of the failure to better suppress the virus is leaving epidemiologists in despair at the suffering that will inevitably follow as the weather cools and people move indoors.The darkening picture would surely have dominated the second presidential debate on Thursday night. But the event was canceled amid a drama over the President’s own diagnosis with the disease two weeks ago. Instead, Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will hold dueling town halls on NBC and ABC.Trump’s tactic of minimizing the crisis is rooted in his quest to maximize turnout from his most loyal base voters, whom he and his conservative media allies constantly target with misinformation about the virus. His rallies and public acts send a visual message that life is back to normal, even as polls suggest that clear majorities of Americans disapprove of his handling of the crisis — one of the dominant issues of the election.Trump is not just risking the health of his supporters. People who get the virus at his rallies also can pass it on to others in wider society. But the President’s word is still law among the voters who have disregarded reports that previous Trump rallies and events have spread the virus and are flocking to his events in a remarkable show of support for his reelection bid.»If I’m gonna get sick and die I guess it’s my turn,» one rallygoer, Brenda Strothoff, told CNN’s Jim Acosta in Des Moines on Wednesday night.»I feel like, yes, the Covid is kind of dangerous and it can be for some people, but for the most of us, we’re gonna go on with life,» Strothoff said.Another rallygoer, John Stanford, told Acosta that while he didn’t want to give anybody the virus, he believed infection totals were inflated and that «I figured the sooner we all get it the sooner we’ll be done with it.»

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