House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said President Donald Trump’s frequent flouting and dismissal of COVID-19 health guidelines “was sort of a brazen invitation for something like this to happen,” after the president announced early Friday that he tested positive for the virus.
“This is tragic. It’s very sad. But it also is something that, again, going into crowds unmasked and all the rest was sort of a brazen invitation for something like this to happen,” she said on MSNBC Friday.
Pelosi said she prayed for Trump and his family, and hoped that, for those who continue to doubt the gravity of the pandemic and dismiss the advice of public health experts, the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis “will be a transition to a saner approach to what this virus is all about.”
“Maybe now that people who see the president of the United States — with all the protection that he has — and the first lady still having this exposure, it might be, as you say, a learning experience. But more than learning, it has to be something that is acted upon,” she said.
Trump has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic, even as more than 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. He rarely wears masks in public, mocks those who do, and has held multiple crowded campaign events where most of the attendees did not wear masks.
Researchers at Cornell University published a study on Thursday concluding that the president has been “the largest driver” of COVID-19 misinformation, as he routinely disseminates false claims, conspiracy theories and “miracle cures” with no scientific basis.
On Friday, Pelosi, who is second in the presidential line of succession — and like many top lawmakers, in the age range considered especially high risk for serious complications from the virus — said she had received a COVID-19 test that morning and was waiting for the results.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.