At a rally ostensibly meant to support Georgia’s Republican senators yesterday, President Donald Trump praised himself, continued to deny his election defeat, and said virtually nothing about the pandemic surge that has been killing and hospitalizing Americans in record numbers. Though the virus claimed 11,000 lives in the four days before his rally, Georgia’s hospitals are swamped, and the head of the Centers for Disease Control just warned that this winter would be the “most difficult time” in the history of the country’s public health, Trump told a tightly packed, largely unmasked crowd in Valdosta that “states and cities should open up.”
The grim milestones of the past week made Trump’s routine denial and distortion of the pandemic all the more striking. He again took credit for the vaccines he claimed it would have taken another administration five years to develop. “Even some of the enemies call it a medical miracle, what we’ve done,” he boasted. The only crisis-related number he cited was the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which broke 30,000 points this week. “Can you imagine, if we didn’t get hit by this— this freak, this total freak that came in to our country, can you imagine if we didn’t get hit?”
As he has several times before, Trump downplayed the risks of catching COVID-19, saying that “If you catch it, you’re immune for life”—a claim that, while not necessarily false, attempts to provide cover for his administration’s colossal mismanagement of the pandemic and the disdain for public health guidelines that resulted in the virus’ spread inside the White House. He did not mention wearing a mask or social distancing.
He did acknowledge that things could get worse—if he’s not in charge. Trump painted an apocalyptic portrait of a nation under Democratic control: one with no jobs, no borders, no freedom—not even Christmas. “They’ve used the pandemic and the phony fake ballots, the mail-in ballots, they used that to sabotage a country.”