In this corner: Donald J. Trump, president of the United States and the most powerful man in the world.
In the opposing corner: severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), better known as COVID-19, a pandemic that has killed a million people, including more than 210,000 in the United States.
You would think they would have been sparring since President Trump learned of its existence.
COVID-19 did step forward in the ring.
The president, however, seemingly has done all he could to not go toe-to-toe with this virus.
First, he called the virus a hoax and said it would go away by this spring (at a time when he knew how dangerous it was and deliberately did not warn the public).
Then he minimized it, failing to provide a coordinated federal response even as governors in their respective states pleaded for help.
Finally, he touted the arrival of a vaccine, possibly arriving by Election Day and sending the virus packing.
None of it has worked. The virus has kept coming.
Now, it has gotten to him.
In retrospect, the president’s strategy of almost never wearing a mask but getting frequently tested—COVID-19 basically transmits through breath—was foolhardy.
What does it matter if doctors learn quickly that the president has become infected?
Why chance becoming infected at all?
But the president did so, rarely wearing a mask and creating a White House culture where wearing a mask was not only not encouraged, but reportedly discouraged.
Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest advisers, spoke about sometimes wearing masks to White House meetings, but catching grief for doing so.
Ms. Hicks became infected. When she began showing symptoms on a campaign trip last week, that shot up a red flag.
Within a day, the president tweeted that he had become infected.
Later that day, the president left the White House for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, dubbed “The Nation’s Medical Center.”
He was showing the classic symptoms of COVID-19.
The White House reported that he was transferred to the center out of “an abundance of caution.”
On Monday President Trump, having been given the kind of world-class medical treatment unavailable to others stricken with the virus, returned via helicopter to the White House.
Tweeting about the virus, he said, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
He further said he felt 20 years younger.
The callousness of his remarks stunned those grieving the deaths of loved ones taken by the virus.
Meanwhile, we continue to hear conflicting information about the state of his health.
Has he beaten it?
Some people infected with the disease are asymptomatic (the president was not).
Some have mild conditions, but those conditions go away quickly.
Some are down for the count, fighting for their lives, perhaps beginning years or a lifetime of painful aftereffects.
Some die. As of two days ago, more than 210,000 Americans had done so.
A danger sign for the president, who reportedly is feeling and doing better: The virus’s standard approach is to show up with mild symptoms…but five or six days in, the disease can really start taking over a person’s life, maybe taking him to the grave within a few weeks.
Like Herman Cain, a business executive and an early supporter of the president in 2016 who attended a Trump rally as a surrogate for the president in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20—attended by members of the president’s advance team who tested positive.
Mr. Cain was diagnosed on June 29 and died on July 30.
Like Mr. Cain, Donald Trump is 74. And he may have had underlying health conditions, which the president also might have, though the razor-tipped obfuscation that masquerades as the president’s health assessment for the public has yet to come forward to address that.
As the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, Donald Trump is likely the most-protected individual in the world.
But the virus doesn’t care about that. The virus is an opportunist. Give it an opening, and the virus takes it.
The president obliged.
In retrospect, it was not a question of when the president would become infected, given his eschewing of masks and extensive campaign schedule, but when.
We human beings look at President Trump and see a protected man who was thriving without precautions, who mocked his election rival as recently as last week’s presidential debate for wearing big masks and keeping an extended physical distance at campaign appearances.
The virus looks at President Trump and sees an ideal target: older, overweight, maybe with underlying health conditions.
The president may survive the virus. He may be reelected. He may vanquish the virus just as he has vanquished so many rivals.
Or the virus may kill him.
Why take the chance?
Too late now.