Ironically, in the past week, Donald Trump has been inadvertently educating the public about COVID-19.
The president has been criticized for downplaying and mismanaging the spread of COVID-19 in his country. Last week, it was announced that he had tested positive himself.
Lesson: Without a vaccine, none of us is immune to COVID-19. And because of that risk, we have to take universal precautions regardless of our age and general health (and any misrepresentation of the latter).
Medical experts have been warning us that large public gatherings, particularly indoor events without social distancing and face masks put us at a much higher risk for infection.
Yet Trump’s campaign continued to organize these events and nurtured an anti-mask culture. In the White House, where new cases are being reported each day since the announcement of Trump’s diagnosis, masks and social distancing have not been encouraged or enforced.
Lesson: Face masks and social distancing are two of the most effective measures every one of us should take to reduce our risks to others and ourselves. Workplaces have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all.
Even while being treated at the Walter Reed Hospital, Trump was seen waving from a limousine accompanied by Secret Service agents. He was quickly criticized by physicians at the same hospital for putting others at risk.
Lesson: Prolonged exposure in enclosed spaces – such as this hermetically sealed vehicle – puts others at high risk for infection. If you know – or suspect you have a COVID-19 infection, you have a responsibility to protect those around you. Don’t go to work or school and avoid social events.
Days before the announcement of his diagnosis, the President attended an event at the White House for his Supreme Court nomination where he and many of the guests were not wearing masks or socially distancing. He and others may have been contagious though asymptomatic at the time.
Each day, we are learning of more positive cases related to this event.
Lesson: One of the most dangerous features of COVID-19 is that it can be highly contagious in the days before symptoms appear. This appears to be one of many super-spreader events in which one individual will infect others who in turn will pass it on to others with whom they subsequently contact.
Even after knowing that his close friend Kellyanne Conway was tested positive for COVID-19, Trump continued his activities as usual, taking no precautions to protect those around him.
Lesson: If you are in close contact with someone with a confirmed case, you should do what you can to reduce your potential risk to others by at least wearing a mask and keeping your distance.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in life, read his blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.