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I don't care how much one disagrees or dislikes the sitting president of the United States, hearing that he's contracted a disease that's proven harmful or even deadly to people his age is unnerving and unwanted.

In times of trouble for the nation, many people of the United States have turned to prayer for presidents regardless of whether the chief executive happened to be from their favored party or the other one.

This should be one of those times.

Predictably, there was some social media snarkiness with Friday morning's news that President Donald Trump and the first lady, Melania, were diagnosed with covid-19. By late Friday, the news was the president was on his way to Walter Reed Medical Center and would remain there a few days on the advice of his physicians.

We're glad he's listening.

The hospital is where he needs to be.

He's not just Donald Trump. Until Jan. 20 and perhaps four years beyond, he's the duly elected leader of the nation. His well-being is not something to be gambled with.

Sure, people have been trying to get that through Trump's head for months as he has largely refused to wear a mask when in close contact with others. And if he were real estate developer Donald Trump only, then I'd say more power to him if he wants to risk himself.

The bad news for those still defiant about the wearing of masks when they can't social distance is they don't risk just themselves. If that were the case, maybe all this talk about personal freedom and liberty might resonate. But the science shows pretty dramatic reductions in the spread of the coronavirus to others. And the fact the virus can be present in and spread by someone who isn't showing any symptoms means none of us can be sure we're not spreading the coronavirus.

If that weren't true, would all of the protections afforded the president of the United State have allowed someone known to be contagious to get anywhere close to him? A lot people working around the president would not wear masks in deference to Trump's own stance on them. Somewhere out there is an individual who passed the virus to the president of the United States. It's impossible to know who, but I'd bet there are several mask-avoiding people in his orbit who are second-guessing their maskless tribute to freedom. The president is paying a price for his and their refusal to believe they might be as susceptible to this virus as any of the rest of us.

If nothing else, similar to what Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted last week when the Atkins schools superintendent died from covid-19, the president's infection dramatically shows that the coronavirus is no respecter of office, or economic statue, of fame, of importance. It just tries to spread to that next willing host and, unfortunately, every one of our bodies is a willing host.

Say a prayer for our president. Such prayers are needed from Democrats and Republicans, from independents and Libertarians. That doesn't commit anyone to changing their vote or even their opinion of Donald Trump. It's fair enough to hope that his political fortunes change on Nov. 3, just as it was before Friday's revelation that he was ill.

But in my book, the president is the president. In one's lifetime, there will be good ones and bad ones. There will be ones you'd not mind having a beer with and ones you wouldn't want to be in the same room with.

That's OK. But the leader of our nation always needs our hopes and prayers. And that's especially true with covid-19.

Greg Harton is editorial page editor for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Contact him by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWAGreg.

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