Today a group of my fellow Americans will travel to the nation’s capital, gather in large numbers, refuse to wear masks, and infect one another with COVID-19. That’s my nightmare, but it’s also a plausible reality. Outside is much safer than inside, but in close enough quarters, transmission of the disease is still possible, and a new, ultra-contagious strain is in circulation now. I fear the protesters will catch the disease, whether in the course of travel or protest; unknowingly carry it back to their scattered towns; spread it to their friends and family; and suffer mightily thereafter, whether from their own sickness or death, or the knowledge that, by attending what they were warned would be a super-spreader event, they contributed to the suffering and death of a parent or a spouse or a flight attendant or an ER doctor or the very ICU nurse who inserted a breathing tube down their throat.
President Donald Trump all but guaranteed such suffering for some of his most fervent supporters when, despite the existence of the new COVID-19 strain, he urged the MAGA masses to congregate in Washington to protest Joe Biden’s victory.
“Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" The Washington Post reports that “the District has mobilized the National Guard and will have every city police officer on duty … to handle protests of the November presidential election, which Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said may include people looking to instigate violence.”