Until two months ago, I was hardly a fan of Trump’s. Then, my doctor – over the phone – told me: Roger Wolfson, I think you have Covid.
Of course Trump didn’t give it to me. But Trump’s reaction to the pandemic personally affected my life.
Before Covid appeared – even though pandemics have been predicted by US intelligence agencies for years – Trump depleted most organized pro-active efforts to prevent a US pandemic.
He fired Tom Bossart at Homeland Security, whose job was to coordinate large scale health responses, then left Bossart’s position unfilled. He left the vital NSC positions of Director for bio-preparedness and Senior Director for Global Health security also unfilled. Then Trump shut down the US Global Health Security and Bio-defense Agency.
He also cut the budget for the Center of Disease Control (CDC). He tried to deepen those cuts even after Covid appeared.
Within a week of China announcing the existence of the virus, scientists in Berlin developed the first Covid diagnostic test. By the time I contracted Covid, the WHO had already shipped these German tests to sixty countries. But Trump refused to accept the test from the WHO.
As an almost direct result, even though I was horribly sick, I couldn’t find a test. When I went to the emergency room and they saw I could still breathe on my own, they refused to test me, and sent me home. As I said above, my doctor diagnosed me over the phone.
In order to get enough tests to help people like me, the nation needed to take the threat of Covid seriously. In order for the country to get to social distancing in time to prevent community spread of the disease, the nation needed to take the threat of Covid seriously.
However, when it mattered most – the early days — Trump challenged the severity of Covid. He called it a hoax. He undermined his medical advisors. He set policies then refused to follow them himself.
His choices were political. But the results, to me, became personal.
When I was lying immobile, unable to eat or drink or move, coughing so hard my abdominal muscles ached and my head felt like it would burst, and gasping for air – I knew I was experiencing the furthest extension of Trump’s choices. When I woke in the middle of the night desperate for air and called the hospital to find out if I should come in – to be told that if I could speak as clearly as I was speaking, it was best for me to stay home so I wouldn’t infect health care workers – I knew that my circumstances had been affected by Trump’s errors.
I survived. I eventually found a test that confirmed what I’d been through.
But many people I care about, including relatives, were not as fortunate. Lives have been lost that could have been saved. Their deaths, as well, are not political. To them, to their families, and to society – they are personal.