Power Up: This was my experience with the novel coronavirus

www.washingtonpost.com
7 min read
fairly difficult
My private conversations with Republicans struck a different note than the public positions of their covid-19 skeptic bosses.
It's unclear exactly where I picked up the virus. I traveled to Georgia in the run-up to Election Day and went canvassing with women in Cobb County. I also attended an outdoor Trump rally in nearby Rome, with roughly 20,000 Trump supporters, many of them maskless.

Of course, campaign travel during a pandemic isn't exactly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But I took a calculated risk to witness political figures swarm the Peach State before what turned out to be a major political upset that turned it blue for the first time in nearly 30 years.

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After testing positive, I spent the majority of my time in self-isolation sleeping and in between naps, I watched 'Schitt's Creek' and 'The Queen's Gambit,' and tried to respond to friends, family, and sources routinely checking in for proof of life. Some of these sources were Republicans — Trump campaign staff, former administration officials, people close to the president, and staffers on Capitol Hill.

I was struck by how dissonant those conversations were from some of the GOP's public rhetoric about the virus. President Trump repeatedly and falsely insisted the country was "rounding the bend" before the election, and several Republican governors from South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Wyoming are still resisting mask mandates. Some, like Oklahoma's Gov. Kevin Stitt and South Dakota's Kristi L. Noem, have sanctioned gathering with family this week for Thanksgiving, despite warnings from public health officials.

Some of the talks with sources were mundane: "How are you feeling?" they would ask. "Tired" or "meh" were my two most common replies. Others politely asked if I needed anything. One source close to President Trump, who has largely stepped back from managing the pandemic since losing the election, expressed alarm at the croak of my voice when I picked up their call mid-nap and promptly shooed me off the phone. In other conversations, sources lamented how…
Jacqueline Alemany
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