The Real Problem With Trump and Masks

At the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court, practically everyone was maskless.Gripas Yuri/POOL via ZUMA

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I know this is obvious, but the lesson of Donald Trump’s infection is not that it’s a result of him refusing to wear a mask. It’s a result of him insisting that everyone around him not wear a mask.

This is the problem the nation faces with Trump’s politicization of masks: your personal safety doesn’t depend very much on wearing a mask. What matters is whether everyone else is wearing a mask—“herd mentality,” you might call it. In Trump country, where lots of people spurn the whole idea of masks, you’re going to be unsafe regardless of what precautions you take. In the case of Trump gatherings, where everyone gleefully goes unmasked in order to own the libs and provide the optics Trump wants, you’re unsafe even if you buck the trend and wear a mask yourself. Ditto for the floor of the Senate. Or the House.

At Trump events, it’s considered de rigueur to go maskless. Don’t want to upset Donald, after all. So naturally everyone was maskless at Trump’s announcement event for Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The result so far? Sen. Mike Lee is now positive for coronavirus. Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins is positive for coronavirus. RNC chair Ronna McDaniel wasn’t there, but she’s around the president and his staff all the time. Now they all have COVID-19 and more are sure to follow.

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