President Trump has received criticism from his detractors on his coronavirus response. His regular reversals of position, his unwillingness to provide aid to states, his promotion of medical falsehoods and his baseless promises of upcoming cures and vaccines have combined to undermine what little confidence many of his constituents had in him.
Throughout most of the world, leaders are moving in the opposite direction from Trump. This is not the case in Brazil.
Even as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo have initiated lockdown measures, President Bolsonaro has urged local leadership to lift their health measures.
In an address televised to the nation, Jair Bolsonaro laid out his case, which was notably absent on fact. He explained that coronavirus would not be especially damaging in Brazil because of their warm climate and comparatively youthful population, and he urged people to go back to work. He then held himself up as an example.
“In my particular case, because of my background as an athlete, I wouldn’t need to worry if I was infected by the virus. I wouldn’t feel anything or at the very worst it would be like a little flu or a bit of a cold.”Jair Bolsonaro, via The Guardian
Bolsonaro’s popularity has dropped among his core constituency in the last month according to national polling groups. His general approval had been low outside of that group for much of 2019, but increased toward the end of the year and continued to grow through January as promised economic development seemed to be occurring. Now, Brazil’s national airlines are grounding 90% of their flights and their largest cities are under lockdown order expected to end their economic growth. Bolsonaro’s response has been to downplay the coronavirus, at one point calling it a fantasy. He was subjected to a protest during his speech.