February 28, 2020:
Trump: "Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, you know that right? Coronavirus, they’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, “How’s President Trump doing?” They go, “Oh, not good, not good.” They have no clue. They don’t have any clue."
Just days before that, Trump revealed to Bob Woodward that the virus was far worse than he was publicly admitting. That's on tape.
Why this matters now:
Several governors are lifting COVID safety restrictions prematurely. I understand that we can argue about the costs and benefits of opening businesses, but it is troubling that they're lifting mask requirements, which seems a reckless, unnecessary move. It is less a sober reflection of current public health circumstances than it is a politically symbolic concession to a lethal tribal rebellion.
If he isn't 100% responsible, Trump bears significant responsibility for fostering a climate of distrust of public health officials and public health precautions. From anti-masking to anti-social distancing, to anti-vaccine attitudes, there can be no doubt that Trump contributed, more than anyone else, to turning a public health matter into a culture war fight.
Now, we've learned that Trump and Melania were vaccinated secretly in January. Why would he do that secretly, at a time when public health officials are trying to persuade the public that mass vaccination is vital?
That's a rhetorical question.
Trump getting vaccinated did not fit right-wing culture war narratives that downplay the virus while fostering rebellion against precautions because it's all a Democratic hoax.
Additional observations from the non-Trumpist right:
An excellent observation by @BillKristol. There are costs/benefits to re-opening the economy. But what's the arguments against wearing *masks* in a pandemic? There is none. It's a lethal form of "virtue signaling." Hence the point about nihilism. https://t.co/Qg7np3S5Xv— Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner) March 5, 2021
Bill is right. Anti-masking further exposed the darkness in parts of the right. It’s such a small thing to show love of neighbor, but that small thing was and is too much for all too many who claim to be pro-life. https://t.co/uv78PRfSId— David French (@DavidAFrench) March 5, 2021
And here's an example of the confident foolery Trump's culture war tribalization of public health yields in the midst of public health crisis:
David, you can’t possibly be this stupid, so I presume you are just that much of a virtue-signaling fraud.— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) March 5, 2021
The data/science/logic prove that MASKS DO NOT WORK against a virus, & having the government mandate their use is an affront to everything for which this nation once stood.
Except they simply don’t work against a virus pic.twitter.com/lzSN2YsNCE— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) March 5, 2021
We get a few cherry-picked pre-COVID-19 studies with no examination of the details or the limits of the inferences.
A more recent review (January 2021) of research on the efficacy of mask-wearing to prevent transmission of COVID-19 finds that:
The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high.
Read the whole thing here.