Please stay home Mr. President

President Donald Trump has chosen this moment – a moment when we are in the middle of a devastating pandemic – to make his first visit to the Lehigh Valley. I have one simple message: please stay away.

No one should be shocked to learn that I am no fan of this president, frankly I could not be more disgusted that his name will follow the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy in the annals of history. However, he is still the president and normally a visit from any commander in chief would be most welcome.

These are not normal times, however.

With the Lehigh Valley experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in Pennsylvania, now is not the time for a visit. It is instead time for social distancing, giving our first responders and medical personnel more space to work and well thought out action.

A presidential visit isn’t like a visit from a relative. Police will be blocking highway onramps; the presidential motorcade will be followed by first responders and our very best paramedics; hospitals will be required to keep sections unoccupied in the event of a medical crisis. At the very best of times, a presidential visit requires the attention of our local first responders.

But again, these are not normal times.

We need every available area of our hospitals and we need our paramedics and EMTs to respond to locals first. We simply do not need a presidential visit now, when we are in such a bad way due to the pandemic.

President Trump is not coming to the Lehigh Valley because he wants to thank the workers at Owens and Minor. He is coming here as his polling numbers are sagging. But I am an elected official too and I get that that is part of what candidates (particularly those about ready to be in a tough re-election) do.

It is easy (and accurate to say) that a man whose very residence is infected with COVID-19 should not be touring a distribution facility of needed PPE for a simple photo op. And I am not going to make the case that he shouldn’t be doing these things because again, that’s part of being a politician.  

What I am saying is that the timing is stupid and dangerous. Not just to the workers at Owens and Minor, but for the people across the Lehigh Valley who have been in quarantine for months now. I think that our region is beginning to turn a corner and anything that risks our health and well-being, not to mention our eventual economic recovery is just dumb.

The president should know better than this. Please stay home.