Is there a silver lining to Trump’s illness? Murphy hopes so
The announcement last Friday that President Trump had tested positive for the novel coronavirus shocked residents in New Jersey, across the country and around the world.
But Gov. Phil Murphy believes there may be a silver lining in the president’s high-profile illness.
“The silver lining is we may have broadened, please God, that we have broadened the public acceptance of the basics that we have to adhere to,” he said.
Murphy noted that means wearing masks, social distancing and self-quarantining if you’ve had close exposure to someone who has tested positive for the virus for at least 15 minutes.
The president's seen controversy for attending a fundraiser in Bedminster even after having a known exposure to coronavirus-positive aide Hope Hicks, getting in a car with Secret Service to wave to fans while still hospitalized, and taking off his mask while standing on a White House balcony during a highly publicized return from the hospital.
Murphy reiterated he’s praying for Trump, and said while there is no silver lining in any illness or loss of life, Trump coming down with COVID-19 has focused new attention on the pandemic. He said those who had been suffering from so-called "COVID fatigue" seem to have been reminded the virus is a threat to everyone, even the leader of the free world.
Psychologist Steven Tobias of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown agrees.
He said when we learned Trump has the coronavirus and he was taken to Walter Reed Military Medical Center and given an experimental drug, a lot of people became nervous and anxious — which can actually be beneficial.
“What it’s doing is it’s really warning us of a danger that can take place, so that we can take action to proactively address that danger," he said.
Tobias said the announcement of Trump's illness “really made us more aware, and therefore I think is making us take it more seriously and take more action.”
Tobias said denial about the seriousness of the coronavirus threat is a defense mechanism.
He said before Trump became sick, many people looked at the president — often maskless — and thought they wouldn't need to take such precautions either. But now, he said, "I think this really poked a hole in our ability to engage in denial and avoid the reality that yes, the president can get it, we can get it too.”
He added the fact that Trump tested positive for COVID “makes it more real to people who were able to minimize it or deny it.”
Murphy said while most Garden State residents have remained vigilant about wearing masks and social distancing from the start of the pandemic, only a very small minority have not. He said that group reflects a distorted viewpoint.
Murphy may be praying for the president’s full recovery, but he has also blasted Trump for behaving in what he called a reckless manner, showing up at the Bedminster fundraiser last week.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com