You let COVID-19 dominate her life, Mr. President

A student discusses losing her great-grandmother to COVID-19 and the president’s pandemic response.

It was April 18.

I woke up from a nap to my mom standing alongside my bed. I groggily opened my eyes and turned toward her as a single tear rolled down her cheek. I immediately sat up. 

Then she broke the news: My great grandmother had died from COVID-19.

Every inch of my body seethed with emotions out of empathy for my mom. She had a special bond with my great grandma, Grey. 

I was already struggling with my mental health after my anxiety disorder had relapsed in November 2019, and when I heard Grey had passed, my depression worsened. 

A few days later, my family announced there would be a small funeral for her. It was crucial to limit the number of attendees because of the pandemic. 

Even so, I was terrified to sit in a crowded car, fearful I would get sick with the same virus that killed my great-grandmother. 

My hypochondria was so debilitating that I did not attend the funeral. I couldn’t overcome my anxiety and say my goodbyes. I knew I’d regret that decision. 

I stared out my bedroom window while the rest of my family was at her funeral and couldn’t help but remember our time together. I looked back on sunny afternoons when she would take me to get an ice cream sundae at Friendly’s. 

She would always crack jokes and make people laugh. Her vibrant smile brought joy to everyone around her, especially me.  

What frustrated me was her death may have been avoided if the United States responded more proactively to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In March, Bucks County, where I live, reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19. I had no idea that I would be spending the next three months locked in my house or that it would be the reason I would lose my great-grandmother one month later.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump had been informed in almost a dozen briefings in January that the virus would become a global threat, he waited until March to announce a state of emergency, the Guardian reported

If Trump had followed the advice of public health experts and closed down the country earlier, maybe Grey would still be here. 

I blamed Trump for downplaying the virus, and he soon faced the consequences of not wearing a mask when he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 1. 

I thought he would finally be a proponent of mask-wearing now that he had it, but his response was the opposite of what I expected. 

As I was scrolling through social media, I saw a trending video of him and watched it. 

“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,” he said. “Two days ago, I felt great, like better than I have in a long time.” 

My heart dropped into my stomach. The words that formulated from Trump’s mouth made me want to scream in exasperation. 

I couldn’t listen any longer.

When Grey had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in her nursing home facility, she wasn’t taken to the hospital. She wasn’t given a chance to recover. 

Meanwhile, Trump received the best medical care in the country. Part of the reason Grey may have been left to die was because she was 99 years old, but it was unfair that the doctors did not try to save her life. 

Grey’s life was just as valuable as Trump’s. She was worth the world to me and countless others in my family.

COVID-19 has dominated my life. I wonder how many more people will have to lose a loved one from COVID-19 before Trump takes the virus seriously.

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