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World Reacts to Trump Diagnosis

Well wishes, dark jokes, concern expressed after president, first lady announce they have the virus
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2020 6:35 AM CDT
Updated Oct 2, 2020 6:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – "[The] president of the United States has tested positive for COVID-19," was Brian Williams' somber announcement at around 1am Friday on MSNBC. "This puts us in all new territory." And with that new territory, per the Washington Post, well wishes from around the world began pouring in for President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who announced their positive coronavirus diagnosis just after midnight, a few hours after news broke that close aide Hope Hicks was infected. One of the first to send out a message: British PM Boris Johnson, who himself battled the virus earlier this year. "My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady," Johnson tweeted. "Hope they both have a speedy recovery from coronavirus." Other reaction, which NBC New York describes as a mix of "shock, sympathy, [and] mockery":

  • According to the Interfax agency, Vladimir Putin sent a telegram: "I am certain that your inherent vitality, good spirits, and optimism will help you cope with this dangerous virus," the Russian president's message said, per the National Post.
  • From India, which has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, "Wishing my friend @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a quick recovery and good health." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a similar message.
  • Out of France, a warning. The news, says a French government spokesman who wished a quick recovery for the Trumps, is "a sign that the virus spares no one, including those who are the most skeptical about its reality and gravity," per WaPo.

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  • Some response seemed more schadenfreude than sympathy. From Hu Xijin, the editor of China's state-owned Global Times: "President Trump and the first lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down the COVID-19. The news shows the severity of the US' pandemic situation. It will impose a negative impact on the image of Trump and the US, and may also negatively affect his reelection."
  • Others, such as journalist Carl Bernstein, say this news puts the US in a precarious position. "We are now in the midst of a national security crisis," he said on CNN, per the Boston Globe. "We have to be concerned about adversaries, particularly Russia, taking advantage of this situation for its own purposes."
  • At least one health official is calling it a "nightmare" for Trump. "COVID19 is a serious infection, especially for someone who is older like Mr. Trump," Dr. Ashish Jha, head of the Brown University School of Public Health, noted. "I can't believe he was infected. This is a total failure by WH team to protect the President."
  • Some are hoping this changes the attitude toward the virus, both from the president and the country in general. "After 209,000 American lives Lost, maybe now this gets taken seriously," former RNC Chair Michael Steele tweeted.
  • Conspiracy theories and dark humor about the president's diagnosis also proliferated online. "Poor Melania, it's probably the longest time she'll have to spend isolated in Trump's company since she married him," one commenter snarked.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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