Jan has perfectly captured what I–and maybe you–have been feeling since COVID-19 became a pandemic.
By Jan Warrington
Let’s not mince words here: We are slowly drowning in a sea of bullshit, a sea of crazy coming from a cowardly administration that is trying desperately to minimize our awareness of the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. An administration that was slow to act, is terrified of the truth, terrified of the American people learning the truth of the devastation (read body count) that lies ahead.
If I’m lucky — and my loved ones and your loved ones are lucky — we’ll only drown figuratively, not in real life, not alone in an ICU, alone and gasping for air because some unused ventilators sit gathering dust in a warehouse in some distant state in, yes, my country — our country, the United States of America.
My rage — yes, rage and fury — is the culmination of days of watching President Donald J. Trump and his administration pretend and minimize, dawdle and minimize, blather and minimize. It comes from days of listening to Trump and his merry band of bobbleheaded gloaters, headed by Vice President Mike Pence. This merry band (not including you, Dr. Fauci) stands behind Trump on the podium and half-smiles and nods as if a new trade deal with China were being announced.
Remember one of those early briefings, just four weeks ago? Trump told the American people that the 15 virus cases would dwindle to zero. False. As of today, there are more than 101,242 cases, and 1,588 deaths in the US and its territories, according to CNN.
Zero? Can you tell that I’m angry?
This is an extremely difficult and traumatic time for the American people, as well as people around the world. I am terrified. And I am angry because I feel helpless, powerless to help those I love, helpless to stop the spread of this hideous virus that is on a trajectory to decimate this country that I love. The spread may be beyond any one person’s control, but the president of the United States continues to this day to minimize and misinform. His refusal to act early on, refusal to take this pandemic seriously, contributes daily to my fear and fury.
Trump doesn’t seem to grasp that — like soap and water — truth-telling and trust go hand in hand. The truth has served the American people and its leaders well for decades. We may not always want to hear it, but we’re strong and resilient; we don’t need a sugar-coated version. Truth-telling can be a real gift; I often tried to communicate that to patients. It sends the message to the other person that you trust them, that you have faith that they can handle what you’re about to tell them, however painful. But it takes courage.
Each of us may have his or her own motives, conscious or unconscious, for denying reality — managing our own existential fear of death, maybe worrying about losing an election — and we each have different strategies for coping. But a president’s deliberate avoidance of the truth of what he knows is about to unfold over the next few months is — and let me say this loud and clear — an insult to the American people. It demonstrates distrust and disrespect, not to mention a real lack of caring.
Most of you reading this are probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer. It is wisdom at its finest: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
The part of the prayer that sometimes gets the least attention is this: “courage to change the things I can.”
Donald Trump has the power to change things — but, day after day, chooses not to use that power. He is a coward and he is killing us.
Today, doctors are urging the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, to take stricter measures to help slow the virus spread. The mayor of Miami is urging the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — who refused to close beaches to spring break revelers — to put into place a statewide lockdown. And Mississippi governor Tate Reeves has declared that just about every business is essential, so life in Mississippi pretty much will go on as usual . This is the governor who exclaimed that he didn’t want to follow “dictatorship models like China.”
I think what Governor Reeves really means is that he doesn’t want to be an adult, let alone a leader. He’s telling us that he doesn’t have the courage to change the things he can. The Cowardly Lion at least recognized that he needed courage, which to me was downright courageous.
These governors as well as Trump and his administration are refusing to take responsibility, and they are refusing to make hard choices. They lack courage, and their inaction is killing the American people, not to mention the countless health care heroes on the frontlines daily. It is a betrayal of the American people.
Yesterday, Trump tried again to do his best soft-shoe. He talked about deaths in other countries, and ignored the death toll here. He and his trade advisor Peter Navarro made a joke about Harvard; it wasn’t a time for jokes. He likes to tout his talks with CEOs, and he lies daily about testing, vaccine development, possible treatments, ventilators. I don’t recall ever hearing him express sorrow at the deaths of the virus victims.
If any of my loved ones, young or old, are felled by the COVID-19, I will be hard put not to hold this administration and its handmaidens partly responsible. Yes, the virus will be the direct cause — but the president and his minions will be co-conspirators. They looked away from the truth (it’s all “incredible” and we’re having great “success”! says Trump) and did not make tough choices. They don’t trust us to handle the truth, and can’t trust themselves to handle the devastating reality. Cowards.
Zero cases? Can you tell that I’m angry?
Now, we’re waiting to hear what Trump will propose in terms of possibly revising social distancing guidelines by Easter. One idea is to designate jurisdictions as low, medium and high risk. Let me say this clearly: At best, this proposal is naive; at worst, it is a manipulation of scientific principles in its exclusion of significant relevant variables. As many have said, the virus doesn’t recognize county lines. To think that rural America is going to be immune to this virus is folly. The health care system in sparsely populated areas has been blinking red for years — not enough hospitals, resources, or staff.
Some of you might say I’m too negative, that the situation may not be so bad, maybe the risk designation will work. I am not a medical expert, and I clearly don’t have all the facts. But I am listening, have been listening, to the medical experts, and their voices are growing louder and more urgent each day – do more NOW, they are saying, not in a few days or weeks. There is no denying that they are calling B.S. on this president and his administration’s approach in dealing with this virus. The experts rely on data, and those data say that we need to put into place much stricter measures to flatten the curve.
So, we drown in Trump’s cowardice.
I’m guessing that each of you reading this could tell your own unique stories of sacrifice, of how this virus, and the nation’s responses or lack thereof, have contributed to your worry, fear, and anxiety. What I am being forced to give up is nothing compared to those remarkable medical professionals who confront this crisis each day, or those whose jobs have been lost and are facing great economic calamity. I wish for each of you to find your own space, place, emotional and physical, where you can find a few minutes of respite. Yes, we need hope. Real hope will come (I hope!) when our leaders have the courage to face the truth, and trust us to deal with it — however painful it may be — and take much stronger action.
My hope partly lies in knowing that the American people have faced many crises and enemies before, and will again. It also resides in something that you can find on a penny. Remember E Pluribus Unum? “Out of many, one.” This is the real foundation, Donald Trump, of what makes America great.
At 3:49 this morning, our one-year-old pup (affectionately known as Crazy Ace) woke up and started barking. “Roof roof roof; roof roof. Roof. Roof!” My husband and our 8-year-old dog heaved loud sighs of exasperation almost in unison, and I could only chuckle to myself. For now, life goes on.