PHOENIX — Now he’s risking the lives of our children.
For months, President Trump has been saying COVID-19 will magically disappear.
At a recent press briefing, he said, “It’s going away, it will go away…”
COVID-19 is not going away. It will be with us for many more months or years to come and may never be fully eradicated, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the world’s premier experts on infectious diseases.
But it’s statements like “It’s going away” and Trump’s manifest incompetence in curbing the pandemic’s spread that have led to the needless deaths of many, if not most, of the nearly 164,000 Americans killed in the U.S. thus far by COVID-19.
Now comes Trump’s latest, potentially lethal refrain: “They’re virtually immune.”
“They,” as in our children. “Immune,” as in immune from COVID-19.
According to the best available science, children are not “virtually immune.” They’re not immune at all. No one is immune, unless perhaps you’ve already had the virus and recovered. And even then, the research isn’t conclusive.
What the science shows is that children, especially younger kids, are less likely than adults to suffer serious illness or die from the disease. Still, hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. have been infected by the virus.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association (AAP) analyzed data gathered as of July 30 from 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam and found that “338,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.”
The same study reveals that nearly 100,000 of those cases occurred in the final two weeks of July.
Furthermore, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Latino children are about eight times as likely as white children to be hospitalized from COVID-19 and Black children were five times as likely as compared to white children.
Plus, even if in rare instances, some children who catch COVID-19 die.
Two weeks ago, a 9-year-old Florida girl with no underlying health conditions died from COVID-19. She was the fifth person under 18 in Florida to die from COVID-19.
This week in Tennessee, a 6-year-old girl with serious underlying health conditions caught COVID-19 and died.
Last week, a Fresno County teen became the first to die from COVID-19 in California.
“It’s a heartbreaking case,” Dr. Rais Vohra, a Fresno County health official, told a local reporter. “It just brings home the reality that this is not sparing even the youngest members of our community.”
Those are the facts. But the president has proven time and again that he isn’t interested in the facts when it comes to much of anything, much less the facts about children’s vulnerability to the coronavirus.
“We have it totally under control,” Trump keeps saying about the virus.
It’s not under control, of course, even if the president has concluded that pretending it is will somehow get him re-elected.
The president’s apparent logic — and I apply that term loosely — is that if he could just convince enough parents that children are “virtually immune,” they’ll send their children back to school, go back to work, the economy will make a quick and miraculous recovery, and he’ll get re-elected.
That’s more than magical thinking. It’s downright delusional and potentially deadly.
So what if a few kids — other people’s kids — get sick and die along the way?
So what if hundreds of thousands of children are asymptomatic carriers of the virus and spread it to hundreds of thousands more teachers, parents and grandparents — and many of them die?
As far as Trump is concerned, as he told a reporter for Axios when asked about the thousands of people who are dying of the virus: “They are dying, that’s true. And it is what it is.”
That may be “what it is,” but it’s not the way it should be.
Trump may not care that Americans are dying as a result of his ineptitude and blind ambition, but I am convinced the last thing we want is for more children to die in the name of the president’s selfish quest for re-election.
James E. Garcia is a journalist, playwright and communications consultant based in Phoenix, AZ. He is the editor and publisher of Vanguardia Arizona and Vanguardia America. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets from @JG_Vanguardia.