Why does Pres. Trump ignore COVID's hazards? Overly-positive thinking, says biographer

Posted at 11:27 PM, Oct 06, 2020

President Donald Trump is in the middle of the most intense phase of COVID-19, but it's not stopping him from creating controversy. From social media posts deemed so misleading that they were deleted, to a staged re-entry to the White House, to overly-positive assessments of the deadly disease, the president has spent Monday and Tuesday making waves.

A biographical analyst attributed some of the president's brashness to a way of thinking in which he's been steeped from a young age.

Tuesday afternoon began with Dr. Sean Conley, President Trump's personal physician, issuing a memorandum that said, in part, "He reports no symptoms," and "He continues to do extremely well."

The memo came out after the president's medical team met with him on Monday morning. Also on Monday morning, Mr. Trump was active on social media.

As is typical when he's not tasked with fighting a deadly disease in his bloodstream, the president's posts sparked strong reactions.

Specifically, the social media outlets on which he posted responded with rebuke.

Facebook deleted a post that Trump made, because it contained false information about COVID-19 and flu. Meanwhile, Twitter chose to allow the same post from him, made in a tweet, obviously. However, Twitter added a disclaimer that what the president had written had "violated Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19."

The president's tweet said that "Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu." It went on to say, "we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!"

However, Trump's own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that, over the last decade, an average of 36,500 Americans have died from the flu. That's in contrast to more than 210,400 who've lost their lives to COVID.

The social media posts followed Pres. Trump's staged return home on Monday night.

That's when he left Walter Reed Military Medical Center in suburban Washington, D.C. for his home at the White House. Ordinarily, the president takes an elevator from the ground floor to the balcony level, one floor above. However, on Monday night, he climbed the exterior flight of stairs, from the White House Lawn, and removed his mask.

That gesture, along with the president's visible straining for air following his ascent up the steps, sparked widespread reaction by social media users, and by medical experts alike.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, the George Washington University Hospital cardiologist who saved former Vice President Dick Cheney's life, was aghast at the sight of the world's most-watched COVID patient removing his mask in the midst of his affliction, while around other people.

"It's unexplainable," Dr. Reiner told CNN in an interview, "that the President of the United States, who's actively shedding virus with millions of particles, would walk into that building, with the enormous number of staff, unmasked."

After his arrival at the White House, President Trump recorded a video message about COVID.

"Don't let it dominate you," Trump said, looking into the camera. "Don't be afraid of it."

He made no mention of his fellow Americans who have died, in his message that was characteristically upbeat.

Some people who've chronicled Donald Trump's life, including his years prior to becoming president, say that his approach to everything is centered around the way of thinking he learned at Marble Collegiate Church, in Midtown Manhattan.

It had been home to world renowned pastor, Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. The author of "The Power of Positive Thinking" preached that message so strongly that it led to the Trump family becoming devoted members of Marble Collegiate, from the time of Donald Trump's early childhood.

Gwenda Blair, a biographical author who wrote the book "The Trumps," said that a blind devotion to the power of positive thinking has long driven Donald Trump, for better, and possibly worse.

"He has used that to full advantage," Blair said, in a Zoom interview with PIX11 News. "That whole emphasis on success does not allow for anything like insight," she continued, "into assessing your effect on other people, the impact, or anything you might call failure."

"Instead, with Donald Trump," she said, "it's led to absolute faith that whatever he's done is right, and if something goes wrong, it's somebody else's fault."

That assessment is related to a comment that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made late on Monday afternoon -- that the president doesn't seem to realize that, as a COVID patient, he's got every advantage, more so than anyone else who's had the disease.

"[When] the average person gets COVID," the governor said in a news conference, "they don’t get flown by helicopter to Walter Reed Hospital, and have a team of 20 doctors, [and] millions of dollars of medical talent."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, a statement from the office of First Lady Melania Trump said that all White House staff, including anyone coming into contact with the president and first lady, were wearing PPE.

This article was written by James Ford for WPIX.