President Donald Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19, has what are being called “mild symptoms” as of Friday morning.
But last Thursday, the President was in Jacksonville for a rally, and as has been the case for much of the pandemic, he was glib, seemingly downplaying the virus.
As the September sun set, the President delivered a shopworn series of applause lines, but a relatively new one was a rumination on how COVID-19 sounded like a vacation in one of the initial hotspots for the virus.
“The people call it coronavirus. It sounds like a beautiful place in Italy,” the President quipped to some applause.
The President had flirted with bringing the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville, but ultimately a spiking rate of positive tests for the novel coronavirus dashed those plans.
Trump alluded to that also.
He gave Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry props, saying “we wanted to have our Republican National Convention right here in Jacksonville … but we got hit hard with the China virus.”
Now what the President has called the “China virus” has finally, after months of diminishing the impact of the virus, made it to the President’s own doorstep.
The event, held outdoors, was one of many recent examples this year of Trump and allies persevering despite COVID-19, as if life were more or less normal.
Especially prominent in flouting social distancing and mask guidelines, if photographic evidence is reliable, was Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A photographer from the Florida Times-Union caught the Governor embracing two middle-aged men at the event, leaning in for a cell phone picture.
DeSantis was not the only Republican at the event maskless and in close proximity to revelers. As Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Central Florida Democrat, pointed out, Reps. Cord Byrd and Jason Fischer were photographed also shirking health recommendations.
Others, including Mayor Lenny Curry, spoke at the gathering sans face coverings, addressing coronavirus response.
Curry lauded Gov. DeSantis for navigating “through what is truth as related to COVID-19,” including “getting students back into schools … athletics … summer camps.”
Leah Shields of First Coast News reports that thus far, Curry has not tested positive.
In light of the President’s positive test and other potential complications, such as his advanced age and elevated body mass index, it’s unlikely that Trump comes back to Jacksonville, especially given the virus can take weeks to resolve favorably.
The Cecil Field rally in all likelihood closes what has been a five year run of events, starting at the since-demolished Jacksonville Landing in 2015, when the President’s campaign was still considered an exotic novelty by the smart set, and extending through multiple events ahead of the 2016 victory against Hillary Clinton.