During the summer between seventh and eighth grade a few of my friends and I attended a summer program. It was like school in the summer, only we got personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut one day a week.

One assignment included us reading a story about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The article said that Lee Harvey Oswald had been eating fried chicken in the room from which he shot Kennedy. From that, my friend Haley and I surmised that in fact Oswald had been poisoned by the chicken and accidentally shot the president while he was cleaning his gun. Colonel Sanders was the real culprit.

That was the first conspiracy theory I ever had a hand in creating and I’ve always thought it was a pretty good one for two 13-year-old kids.

When I found out last Friday that Donald Trump had caught the coronavirus I laughed, despite my good raising. I guess I’m not as good of a person as all of the other Democrats out there tweeting their prayers for the POTUS. Maybe I should be ashamed to say I haven’t prayed for Trump a single time.

My little laugh lasted less than two seconds. Partly because Karma comes for those who believe in it, which I do, and you should never laugh when someone is sick. Partly because thousands of theories — which were much more likely than my 13 year old JFK-KFC conspiracy theory— flooded my brain. Had Trump known he was infected on Tuesday when he “debated” Joe Biden, and had he come to the debate anyway so he could infect Biden and make him sick? Was he faking being infected so he could show no symptoms and tell everyone how the virus wasn’t harmful at all?

One of the rules of the debate was that both sides would be tested for COVID at the site of the debate, but Trump showed up too late to get a test. They took his word for it when he said he’d tested negative earlier in the day. There were later questions about the timeline of his announcement that he was sick, and I think we know even if Trump didn’t know he was infected on Tuesday, he knew earlier than he announced and attended events, without a mask, while he was infected.

And then sure enough, instead of telling people the virus is real and they need to wear their masks, he has announced that we shouldn’t be scared of COVID or let it control our lives. He said he felt better than he did twenty years ago, and he went so far as to endanger the health and lives of secret service agents just for a car ride and photo-op. It’s convenient that he has access to his own personal entourage of healthcare workers.

Joe Biden wasn’t lying when he told Trump he was the worst president the United States has ever had.

The fact that Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by” should be enough to tell us that. But his inability to listen to science and to lead the country in the fight against a pandemic — a pandemic that he has now helped spread throughout the White House—  is just as inexcusable.

Chris Wallace said it better, but I’ll say this, wear the dang mask.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at danielle.w.kirkland@gmail.com.

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