The stunning overnight news Friday of the positive test for the novel coronavirus by President Donald Trump raises numerous imperative questions that will be answered by others on far loftier platforms. But we think this development also should inform how we in Danville and Pittsylvania County should conduct ourselves now and identify mandates for our futures.
To be sure we wish the president, the first lady and others in their sphere a full and speedy recovery, and we offer prayers for others who work with them and in the White House to continue to be virus-free or at least symptom-free. Our nation’s health — in a geopolitical and security sense — is attached to those prospects, concerns we all share.
But unless we want to send get-well cards and offer those prayers, you probably are wondering what this news might mean to you and how this might affect your life in the near term.
The first would seem the most obvious: If you are a person who shuns wearing a mask as a protective device against the spread of the virus and its lethal offspring COVID-19, please take this moment to rethink that position – for your sake and those around you.
Obviously President Trump has been uneven — to be kind — in his perspective about wearing a mask. He said this week that he wears one when he sees the need. He also has expressed skepticism of the guidelines about masks that was proffered by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obviously, had he listened to the CDC and routinely wore a mask, there is a much greater likelihood that he would not have contracted the virus and possibly spread it to others – because we don’t know who infected whom from among the dozens we now know have tested positive.
Masks are important deterrents — the data is solid — and at the very least they do no harm. To wear one is not to appear weak, as some taunt, but to appear strong, to show your commitment to the health of those around you, add to our fortress against spreading the virus and to accelerate our escape from this pandemic we abhor.
Think about this deeply, if you would, because soon thousands more of our children and educators are going to be returning to classrooms, where all manner of extremely conscientious rules and processes can be effective only if the individuals share the responsibility for their success.
Such commitments start in families and in homes, where logical thinking and good habits can be honed and polished into a safer environment for all.
Please let President Trump’s experience illuminate your thoughts on that effort, to open your mind. Sometimes we overlook the awfulness around us — hundreds of our neighbors infected, dozens of them dead — and need the beacon of a leader or a hero to flip on the light to doing right.
One other thing: Don’t let this news impede your commitment to voting in this fall’s election. You have heard this sermon from us — and you will hear it again— but voting is an adult’s greatest duty to our country, our democracy, our freedom and, ultimately, our happiness.
Early voting has been robust in Virginia since it began on Sept. 18. There are many easy ways to vote, and we encourage you to find the best one for you and take it.
We are approaching the deadline for registering to vote in this election — as long as you are 18 on or before Nov. 3 and reside in Virginia you are eligible — and we implore you not to eschew that opportunity. You can register and then vote all in one stop.
This virus will keep President Trump off the campaign trail in many ways for at least a few days, but we feel certain he would encourage you to fulfill your commitment. He would want you to go to the polls and to mark your ballots. He also now probably would reinforce the rules to wear a mask.
Yes, the president’s health is a factor in this election, but the election’s role in the health of our nation endures forever.