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Time for the country to don a raincoat


If your neighbor doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain, you aren’t surprised if he gets sick.

When that happens, you hope he gets well soon and learns from his mistake.

Based on all the public information available as I write this Monday, President Donald Trump is getting better now after being hospitalized with symptoms caused by COVID-19. I wish him a full and complete recovery, as I wish for the thousands of others who are hospitalized and fighting for their lives.

If, in fact, the president does recover, his illness could save more lives than anything he has done since the virus first reached our shores. Or not. It could go either way.

When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonario became infected with the coronavirus, he insisted that the only reason he felt any weakness at all was because of mold in his lungs caused by 20 days of isolation in his own home. He touts his recovery as evidence of how mild the virus really is.

The symptoms being suffered by President Trump are far more severe. And, Trump’s age and weight mean he is more at-risk.

But it’s hard to know exactly how sick the president is, given that his medical team lied to the American public during its very first press conference, claiming falsely that he had not needed oxygen on Friday night. Dr. Sean Conley admitted the lie the next day, but still refused to answer critical questions about the president’s condition.

Trump is not the only prominent Republican to become infected. U.S. Senators Thom Tillis, Mike Lee and Ron Johnson have caught the virus; as have White House staffers Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway and Nick Luna; RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel; Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien; and first lady Melania Trump.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christine has also tested positive after helping Trump with debate prep; and Notre Dame president John Jenkins was infected after attending the super-spreader event in the Rose Garden held for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Three reporters covering that event were also infected.

Thus far, the wave of infections has not caused much self-reflection at the White House. Staff members are still reportedly roaming the halls without facemasks, and plans are to send Vice President Mike Pence out in Trump’s place for more crowded campaign rallies.

But that could all change. His closest aides say former President Ronald Reagan was a changed man after being shot by John Hinckley. That brush with death forced him to look at things from a different perspective.

The same thing could happen with President Trump. A little time alone in a hospital bed gives a person a chance to sort things out. He could come out of this with a new perspective.

Imagine what a difference it would make if the president sincerely and whole-heartedly urged his supporters to wear facemasks and maintain social distancing.

Maybe that’s too much to ask. But even if this does not cause a great awakening with our president, his illness should be a wake-up call for the rest of us.

Nobody in the country is more protected than the president. He has complete access to testing, protective gear and medical care. And yet he was still infected. His refusal to take advantage of those assets led to his illness. We should learn from that mistake, whether he does or not.

And, for those who still believe COVID-19 is a hoax, or fake news, or no worse than the flu, it’s time to come in out of the rain.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.

Walt Rubel