How President Trump can turn the COVID tide

Dear former President Trump,

We have an important request, one that only you can pull off. It will take some salesmanship, but that’s in your wheelhouse, “The Art of the Deal” and all of that. It will require that you once again capture the national spotlight, but that’s your natural habitat. And you’ll be a hero.

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Mr. President, it’s time to advise your supporters to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Sell it hard. “Want to really own the libs? Get the jab!” Heck, hold rallies with free vaccinations at the gate. Explain how the vaccines save lives and keep people out of hospitals. Play to their patriotism or extol the virtues of keeping friends and family safe. Regale your followers with your story of surviving a bout with COVID and how you got vaccinated yourself. Wrap it in some humor — you’re good at that — and tell them to get their own little injection (or two!) of Trump magic.

Yes, by all means, dub it the Trump Vaccine — or “Trumpcine” as you called it in April. Talk it up as the miracle of science and foresight born on your presidential watch as Operation Warp Speed, under your watchful eye (even if mRNA vaccine research dates back to the last century). Take the credit. Remind them it’s not experimental. Would you have done it if it wasn’t safe? Make a big show of it. Take a poke at “incompetent” Democrats, if you think that will help break through the vaccine hesitancy. And anyway, why should Democrats be getting all the free shots?

We’ll leave the details to you. After all, you are the master of connecting with your supporters. The important thing is that you encourage the skeptical members of your following to reconsider the vaccine. Do it publicly and repeatedly. No half measures. No takebacks. Push all in on the side of encouraging vaccinations.

The number of new COVID cases across the country has doubled in the last three weeks, with lagging vaccination rates providing tinder for the fast-spreading delta variant, now the dominant COVID strain in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One study showed that the delta variant spreads 1,000 times faster than the original strain in the respiratory tracts of infected people. Vaccines help prevent those infections. By some estimates, more than 99 percent of new cases in the United States and Florida are among the unvaccinated. In other words, get vaccinated and you likely won’t get seriously sick. Forgo the jab, and you are rolling the dice.

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As you know, many of the states that supported your reelection bid last year are the ones hit hardest by the latest COVID surge. Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Louisiana and Utah had the most new cases in the week ending Wednesday, accounting for population. Missouri, Arkansas, Nevada, Kansas and Florida had the highest death rates over that same period. And Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Idaho and Wyoming have the lowest overall vaccination rates, CDC data shows. These are your people. They will listen to your advice. You won’t convince them all, but you’ll get through to many. Your full-throated endorsement will provide cover for your followers who are on the fence about getting vaccinated. And you can take credit when the vaccination rates go up. The “Trump bump” has a nice ring to it.

The nation needs you. Use your megaphone to save lives. Your pro-vaccine advocacy will surely have a longer-lasting and historically significant impact than, say, Trump University, Trump Steaks or Trump Ice Natural Spring Water. And this is easy. All you have to do is point your base toward a singular cause. No one does that better than you. Own the libs. Get the jab.