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How Americans Are Reacting After President Trump Tests Positive For The Coronavirus

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Americans are reacting to the news of President Trump and Melania Trump's illness with a mixture of concern and anger - concern because they worry about President Trump and Mrs. Trump's well-being and the well-being of the country, anger because many people believe that Mr. Trump acted carelessly before contracting coronavirus. NPR's Brian Mann spoke with some people yesterday as news of the president's condition was just emerging.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Dawn Vromann is wearing her mask, waiting her turn to go inside a shop in Troy, N.Y., that's requiring strict social distancing. It's the rule in this part of the country. Vromann, who's retired, says she's scared for her president.

DAWN VROMANN: I'm praying it's mild, and I'm sending him all my prayers for him and his wife. I hope they both fight this and recuperate and hope he wins the next election.

MANN: Around the country, a lot of Americans are offering praise and prayers for a president they love. Tony Garcia is a retired veteran in Texas.

TONY GARCIA: I'm going to be loyal to whoever the commander in chief is. And I feel sorry that he came down with it. You know, he travels all over the country, and he meets a lot of people, and I just wish him and his wife a very speedy recovery.

MANN: But others we spoke with are far more critical of the president, who mocked Democratic challenger Joe Biden this week during their debate for Biden's diligence wearing a mask in public. Jessica Dewey is a PhD student in Kansas City.

JESSICA DEWEY: I was expecting probably at some point for him to get COVID. You know, him and everybody I feel like on his campaign don't really use masks or social distance. So then those increase the likelihood of getting sick.

MANN: Opinion polls show Americans are widely critical of Trump's handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people in this country. Some voters tell NPR they actually see a kind of rough justice in the president's illness - among them, Josephine Floyd, a retiree who lives in Philadelphia.

JOSEPHINE FLOYD: I'm very happy that he got it because he didn't use wisdom. You know you're supposed to use a mask. So he put himself at risk. And he also put other people at risk because he didn't use wisdom. He didn't listen to the scientists.

MANN: Beyond Trump's handling of the coronavirus, people voiced grave concern over what his illness might mean for the country if the commander in chief is distracted or sidelined altogether. Sherry Johnson is in Seattle, Wash.

SHERRY JOHNSON: It's very scary because he's now put our country at risk with, you know, potential threats that, you know, maybe we're perceived as weak at the moment, and we just hope and pray that no one takes full advantage of that.

MANN: It's now just over 30 days to the election. And in much of the country, people are already voting. We heard a lot of uncertainty over what President Trump's illness might mean for the outcome.

DANIEL ROBINSON: October surprise right on time, you know?

MANN: Daniel Robinson is a farmer who lives in Kansas City.

ROBINSON: I'm just skeptical to see what's going to happen on the other side, how it's going to affect the election, the campaign leading up to the election.

MANN: This election was already fraught. Karen Nicolini, who works in real estate in Philadelphia, worries Trump might try to use his diagnosis to gain advantage.

KAREN NICOLINI: To be honest, I really feel that that he might be trying to say that he has it and then come up with some cure between now and election to make it seem like it's a miracle and may encourage more people to vote for him. Like, he has the solution, like he's had the solution all along.

MANN: But Trump supporter Gary Crawford, who's 81 and lives in Virginia Beach, Va., says he hopes the president will bounce back in time to win in November.

GARY CRAWFORD: I hope he's OK because we actually need a strong person in that office, the Oval Office. It'll definitely slow the campaign down on the Republican side.

MANN: One reaction NPR heard a lot was the hope President Trump's diagnosis might serve as a wake-up call, causing him and his supporters to be more diligent about mask-wearing and other social distancing rules that slow the coronavirus spread. Brian Mann, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.