President Donald Trump is an eternal optimist: Even after the recent brush with Covid-19, the bravado seems to be intact. But his latest statement, soon after he was back in the White House, likening the lethal virus to common flu seemed to suggest that his misplaced masochism may stem from sheer ignorance.
That he is confusing the two was apparent when he urged Americans to get their flu shots this year due to what he called its high death rate -- although the COVID fatality rate is much higher -- and told people to learn to 'live with it.'
He also wondered whether the country should be closed on account of the flu. For the record, more than 210,000 Americans have died of COVID this year. As against this, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there have been between 12,000 to 61,000 flu deaths each year since 2010.
Trump made a dramatic return to the White House on Monday night after four days in Walter Reed Medical Centre, walking unhesitatingly up the steps of the South Portico where he removed his face mask.
But the president's breathing appeared to be awkward after the climb of a couple of dozen stairs, when he stood at the top to wave at the cameras. He seemed to give his inimitable scowl as he struggled to breathe, with one doctor saying he was 'clearly in some distress'.
Dr. Sean Conley, Trump's personal physician, said on Monday the president was not 'out of the woods' but would get the care he needed at the White House.
In a video filmed after his return, Trump declared he felt 'great' after his discharge and gave a pep talk on why people should not let the virus 'dominate your lives.' But the message immediately elicited anger from detractors who said it was putting Americans at risk. A former Obama aide branded Trump a 'super spreader of dangerous untruths.'