Why Melania Trump’s coronavirus response is sparking outrage

While coronavirus spreads around the world, people are turning to governments and leaders for comfort and instructions on how to stay healthy during this pandemic. To be fair to world leaders everywhere, the sweep of COVID-19 is unprecedented, so it makes sense that it can be difficult not only to know exactly what to do, but also what advice to give. 

This struggle has hit the Trump presidency in a particularly noticeable way, as Donald Trump first responded to news of the coronavirus by claiming things were “going to be just fine.” As The Atlantic quipped about Trump’s initial response to the virus: “Pay no attention to the fake-news fearmongering about the coronavirus. It’s all political hype. Things are going great.” The Atlantic also cited the alarmingly inaccurate information coming from the White House about COVID-19 by offering its own corrections: “No, the virus has not been ‘contained’ in America; no, testing is not available to anybody who wants it; no, people shouldn’t go to work if they’re sick.” 

Politico showed how over the course of one week, Trump’s narrative around COVID-19 has drastically shifted. He swung from saying that the virus was almost disappearing from America to declaring a state of emergency two days later and unlocking $50 billion of government funding to provide aid as the crisis grows. 

While President Trump is getting heat for how he’s handling COVID-19, Melania Trump is also experiencing online criticism for her reaction to the virus. 

Melania Trump got backlash for her delayed response

On March 11, Melania Trump took to Twitter to share an update about COVID-19 and said, “Our great country is fighting hard against the #Coronavirus. This nation is strong & ready & we will overcome. Please take action to prevent further spread.” Melania also added the website for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While this was all fine and good, people on Twitter called out the first lady for her delay in responding to COVID-19. 

One Twitter user wrote, “Where was this weeks ago? All I heard was blaming Democrats. Testing is needed and we are behind the 8 ball. The blame rests squarely on trumps.”  Another person called out Trump through Melania, pointing out the slow response from the White House in general by asking, “Why is Donald Trump implementing a 30 day European travel ban now?? #coronavirus is already here, he should have taken this seriously weeks ago.” 

According to Political Flare, many on Twitter are asking Melania to use her influence to get more access to testing. “If you care at all about the well being of the people your husband serves,” one person tweeted, “Then tell him we need more testing for the virus. 8 test conducted by CDC in one day is not enough. We need accurate testing. Be your best and do what is right. Demand covid-19 test be made available now.”

Melania Trump also got heat on Twitter over a tennis pavilion

Unfortunately, Melania Trump’s delayed response to COVID-19 isn’t the only thing the first lady is getting flack for online. On March 7, well into the virus outbreak, she tweeted updates about a tennis pavilion being built at the White House. First, she wrote, “I am excited to share the progress of the Tennis Pavilion at @WhiteHouse. Thank you to the talented team for their hard work and dedication.” She then followed it up with a second tweet that had a tinge of sass: “I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative & question my work at the @WhiteHouse to take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities.” 

As anyone can imagine, Melania is getting absolutely roasted for how tone-deaf her tennis pavilion updates seemed in light of what’s been happening in the world. One person responded, “It’s Monday, March 9, 2020. Coronavirus rises as Dow plummets. More states declare state of emergency. What will you tweet about today? Best facials? Your next taxpayer-funded overseas trip? Maybe fall couture 2020…You forget you work for the American people.” Another person added, “It’s hard to top tennis courts. People will die because your husband is lying about the coronavirus and failing to hire competent people. Start there.” Yikes!

Melania Trump is no stranger to the wrath of Twitter

Melania Trump just can’t get away from Twitter commentary. She was recently under scrutiny over an 18-year-old copy of New York Magazine, where she was the model on the cover and hired to kiss a firefighter in a post-9/11 New York, where everyone wanted to show their appreciation to the rescue crews. It was a February issue and played on Valentines Day, hence the big kiss. Still, Melania got negative feedback, since it appeared flirtatious and people brought up other, more scandalous photos from her past. This panoply of Melania’s past life led to some scathing comments. 

The public’s difficulty with Melania and her online presence seems to be walking the razor’s edge between calling her out for missteps (i.e. sharing tone-deaf tweets amidst a virus outbreak), while also respecting her past and resisting the urge to slut-shame her. Sure, she had a different life than most first ladies before arriving in the White House, but is that grounds for cruelty on Twitter? No way. Was she late in speaking about COVID-19? Yup. 

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