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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

Drama over Trump's illness may have little impact on the life of the nation

Hillary Clinton shortly after she became ill during

Hillary Clinton shortly after she became ill during the 2016 campaign. At a rally that year, Donald Trump, who now has the coronavirus, ridiculed Clinton's staggering as she collapsed. Credit: The Washington Post via Getty Images / Yana Paskova

The story broke dramatically early Friday when President Donald Trump announced that he and his wife, Melania, had tested positive for the coronavirus and would begin to self-quarantine. The drama mounted Friday as he was hospitalized.

Questions about a wider practical meaning began immediately. Some on social media noted that the president didn't call it "China virus" on this occasion.

Others reposted video of candidate Trump onstage at a rally four years ago, when he mocked then-rival Hillary Clinton's stagger at a 9/11 ceremony as she began to collapse after becoming ill with pneumonia.

Did his hideous but widely remembered 2016 stunt, and others like it, matter in the end? Maybe not. Its significance now lies only in the fact that he took nasty shots at his opponent for falling ill.

As much attention as Trump's health merits, his absence from his elected post could end up having little impact on the everyday life of Americans.

As long as appointees can get his signoff on certain matters, little may be lost in the short term at the Oval Office, where Trump's work habits have long been in question anyway.

And it is hard to tell how much Trump's curbed travel will hurt a campaign that has been reeling for some time. For weeks, the president's numbers have been dangerously close to Joe Biden's in states where a Republican incumbent should be comfortably ahead.

More rallies amid a worsening pandemic might not have solved his polling problems. His glum and unrestrained TV and internet attacks on Biden are expected to continue unabated.

Experts have indicated all along that even the most guarded individual is susceptible. That will not change. Nor will any serious public messaging.

The hydroxychloroquine fad on the political right that Trump helped drive while downplaying the virus has subsided. Guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already been issued.

The die is cast regarding COVID-19 for what remains of Trump's term. People will accept public restrictions, or else they won't. Citizens will get the needed tests and equipment, or they won't. Private companies will keep working on a vaccine, under scientific supervision, as they would have anyway.

As the weekend of Trump's hospitalization began, the number of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus had reached 208,000. Tens of thousands more fatalities are projected. COVID upticks in "hot spots" across America are the current concern.

States, localities, hospitals and school districts will still carry the burden of managing the pandemic. Aid from Congress may or may not arrive after Election Day.

The U.S. Senate is still free to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.

For better or worse, the Postal Service, the election boards and police forces will continue to operate pretty much as they would have otherwise. Job losses, capital markets, opioid abuse, health care and climate change — big issues that affect the people — will command the same worries for the public as they did before.

For now, Trump & Co. may as well focus on his personal recovery.