Age of Trump and the new age the psychology of denial

Virus Outbreak-Antivaxxers refuse vaccine preferring death over life

80-year-old Trump voter from Oklahoma named Margaret says that she will not get the COVID-19 vaccine even though the first vaccines for the virus were announced in the final months of the Trump administration. “He didn’t develop the vaccine,” she said in justifying her lack of trust in in the vaccine. “Scientists did it.”1 Some deniers raise their indignation to an unnecessarily dramatic level of outrage. It is their rights, we hear, that are front and center. They are holding their ground and standing up for what they believe. They even threaten to file lawsuits.

Children burn masks at the instruction of their parents who claim none will die of COVID-19.

In Idaho, parents and their children publicly burned masks claiming COVID-19 is not real and threatening anyone who would force them into a hospital or treat them or their children were evil and going against their rights to make their own choice…and die: refusing all medical help and hospitalization for fear it, too, was a  hoax. The pledged to stay loyal to their god’s Chosen One: Donald J. Trump.

Protesters hold anti-mask pro-Trump rally inside Kansas statehouse.

Anti-maskers and COVID-19 deniers have made the headlines, storming state capitols and county commission2  and school board meetings without masks. They are aggrieved and unconvinced that COVID-19 is as bad as scientists say. Those who reject the reality of the pandemic are usually in a state like Kansas,3 Iowa,4 South Dakota,5 and Texas6 where the pandemic is taking its most lethal hold and rapidly spreading to other states. Even in Massachusetts, where there is a more pro-science majority, confirmed cases and are rising due in a great part by many who insist on going without masks and demanded an open state.7 An estimated 250 million people have been infected worldwide, and 2.6 million are dead.8

Joseph Wu of Hong Kong University

“The future will very much depend on how much social mixing resumes, and what kind of prevention we do,” says Joseph Wu, a disease modeler at the University of Hong Kong. Recent models and evidence from successful lockdowns suggest that behavioral changes can reduce the spread of COVID-19 if most, but not necessarily all, people comply.9

What is the problem? The problem, of course, is that our targets are so different. Ours is the virus that threatens our health and lives. Theirs is surviving some imaginary campaign that is out to violate their rights and crush their identity and power of self-determination. But on some level, our missions are the same: maintaining our integrity and surviving.  The deniers do not want to discuss facts, so that option is off the table. Their firm belief, from wherever and whomever they received it, has so completely consumed them that there is no room for reason or discussion.

The greatest scandal comes with the lack of vaccination of essential workers. A year ago, they were hailed as heroes, risking their lives for little pay in supermarkets, warehouses, and food-processing plants so Americans could stay well-fed and fully stocked during the deadliest pandemic in a century. But now many essential workers, despite bearing an outsize burden of coronavirus infections, worry they have been forgotten in the rush to vaccinate an eager populace against COVID-19, as the state and federal government continually reprioritize who should have access to the coveted doses.10

Donald Trump sidelined and ignored experts in epidemology. Credit: Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty

Sadly, two decades of pandemic war games initiated by Barrack Obama failed to account for Donald Trump. Trump finally admitted that he knew and deliberately hid the information from the American people, when interviewed by Bob Woodward.

The scenarios foresaw leaky travel bans, a scramble for vaccines and disputes between state and federal leaders, but none could anticipate the current levels of dysfunction in the United States.

Trump knew about and did not care. President Donald Trump even held up a copy of the report during a White House briefing on 27 February, declaring: “We’re rated number one.” As he spoke, SARS-CoV-2 was already spreading undetected across the country.

Now the world is victimized by a virus variant in Brazil infecting many who had already recovered from COVID-19 but because of governors like those in Iowa, South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska, etc who have ignored and downplayed the pandemic are falling victim  to the new strain, as are people in Peru, Brazil, and other nations who have not taken the pandemic seriously.11

Brasilian city of Manaus devastated by COVID-19.

The virus exploded in Brazil last spring. Manaus, a city of two million in the Brazilian Amazon, was hit particularly hard. At its springtime peak, the cemeteries of Manaus were overwhelmed by the bodies of the dead.12

Biden (age 78) gets second vaccine dose

There is a solution. It is that face masks and social distancing must become compulsory and with consequences. Behavior change, including compulsory behavior change, can be followed by insights and understanding.13 Joe Biden acknowledged: “We’re up to between three and 4,000 deaths per day. As we approach a grim milestone of 400,000 deaths in America. That’s staggering to state the obvious. I know the pain that so many of your experience; experiencing right now. Starting by sitting now for breakfast this morning, and staring at an empty chair around the kitchen table. Where a loved one used to sit, laugh, talk about how you love one another.” He acknowledged that  before he was sworn in as President, little had been done: “the vaccines offer so much hope, and we’re grateful for the scientists and researchers, and everyone who participated in the clinical trials. We’re grateful for the integrity of the process. The rigorous view and testing that’s led to millions of people around the world already being vaccinated safely. But the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure, thus far.”14

Do I need to year a mask when out of the home?

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/03/07/republicans-covid-vaccine/.
  2. https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article247288729.html.
  3. https://www.kansascity.com/article244284577.html?fbclid=IwAR1ggZVxOIdRSCRLDp9qAelSWfMq0rPmOoBykS6c_sg0X7sRS6ezDxLmH_U.
  4. https://kwwl.com/2021/03/09/mar-9-iowa-reports-15-more-covid-19-deaths-514-new-cases-and-over-6000-new-vaccination-completions/.
  5. https://doh.sd.gov/COVID/Dashboard.aspx.
  6. https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/AdditionalData.aspx.
  7.   https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/03/09/nation/1006-confirmed-cases-20-deaths-85690-vaccinations-see-todays-covid-19-data-mass/?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter. cp. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/10/nation/latest-coronavirus-numbers-massachusetts/?p1=Article_Inline_Related_Box
  8. https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/world-all-news/158839/nearly-2-6-million-coronavirus-deaths-worldwide-pandemic-who-outbreak-covid-cases-world-health-organisation/.
  9. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02278-5.
  10. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/03/10/nation/essential-workers-worry-they-are-being-left-behind-other-groups-are-prioritized-vaccines/?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter.
  11. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/01/health/covid-19-coronavirus-brazil-variant.html. cf. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/transcript-rochelle-walensky-on-face-the-nation/ar-BB1dFG66. cp. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/03/world/americas/brazil-covid-variant.html.
  12. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/25/world/americas/coronavirus-brazil-amazon.html?searchResultPosition=18.
  13. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/pandemic-deniers-what-s-with-them.
  14. https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/joe-biden-speech-transcript-on-national-covid-19-vaccination-plans.

2 comments to Age of Trump and the new age the psychology of denial

  • J Besse  says:

    There ain’t no cure for stupid. That’s about all I can say except that here in America stupidity is a Constitutional right. Perhaps not specified by any particular article of amendment, but it is well implied through the 1st Amendment.

    And, in America they can vote, unfortunately.

  • Sami Thompson  says:

    I’m sure my confusion results from my misguided refusal to accept Trump as my savior and all, but what’s WRONG with these people? Were they asleep when Trump contracted COVID & had to be whisked off to hospital? Did they miss the fact that Trump received uber-expensive, state of the art treatments (not available to regular, non-privileged Americans) to save his life? Maybe they missed all the media hype when the hospital released him to return to the White House to recover. Surely they heard that, as soon as he was well, he promptly demanded one of the first COVID vaccines?

    The fact that Trump had COVID shows that it’s not a hoax (plus, he shared the virus with so many Secret Service employees when he was already infected & demanded to be driven around D.C. in his super Presidential limo).

    The fact that Trump demanded & received his COVID vaccination should encourage his supporters to get vaccinated, pronto. Why are they claiming there’s not enough research on vaccines? If it was good enough for their hero, why not for them?

    Short answer: They’re terrified of change & anything new. {cluck-cluck-cluck}

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