A presidential podium nestled in a carton of french fries.
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President Donald Trump pointing to the left during a coronavirus-task-force meeting in the Rose Garden
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No one would have been allowed on Air Force One without first getting searched for weapons. Yet here the journalists boarded with no guarantee they hadn’t recently contracted a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The episode illustrates how Trump, who likes to project a certain hypermasculine invincibility, has faced greater exposure than he might let on.
“There’s no question [Trump’s] behavior in many circumstances, from what I can see on the outside, puts him at risk,” says Ingrid Katz, the associate faculty director at the Harvard Global Health Institute. She cites his consistent refusal to wear a mask and his participation in meetings held indoors, where the virus is more easily transmitted. “If the goal is to really protect the president, certainly more precautions should be in place—including him wearing more protection,” such as a face covering.
It’s not clear that Trump has been taking the threat all that seriously. Determined to resume his travel routines in the face of the pandemic, the president in the months ahead could be putting Americans at unnecessary risk, including himself. After weeks holed up in the White House, Trump is venturing out more and more. On Thursday, he toured a medical-distribution warehouse in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where, in his remarks, he took a swipe at “Sleepy Joe Biden.” (Biden is riding out the crisis inside his house in Delaware, campaigning virtually from a studio set up in his basement.) After his trip to Phoenix, Trump tweeted a campaign-style video of the visit, set to stirring music and filled with images of the American flag.