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I've seen COVID-19 loss up close; I blame Trump

The background for me, of President Donald Trump's dishonest, belligerent and bumbling mismanagement of the pandemic, has been the COVID-19 pain I have followed from a distance, hearing reports of a middle-aged woman fighting the disease for weeks while on a ventilator in a New York hospital.

She died this week. I blame Trump. It sickens me now, as so many live through and die from the chaos he has wrought, to even look at him.

I didn't know the woman well, just 50 years old, who experienced the unimaginable, the typical coronavirus death, without loved ones at her bedside. But she was an integral part of my stepdaughter's family and I have glimpsed but can't even contemplate the grief this has wrought, no matter how accepting and stoic they may be.

I last saw her at a child's birthday party on Zoom in March, as this all started to get bleak, and she explained on camera, from her living room in Brooklyn, that she had contracted COVID-19 and recovered. Alas, she didn't know she hadn't beat it, and the horror of the disease, unknown to any of us on the call, then still lay ahead.

You could almost track, I suspect, the trajectory of her infection, somewhere in the crowded urban spaces of Brooklyn, as she went about her life, unsuspecting, at the same time our vanity-swollen president was publicly denying the severity of the coming pandemic, even as he was warned privately by the experts how bad it would be.

His hiding the reality of the dire warnings he was given, while at the same time pitching the virus as a hoax created by his political enemies, is already coming into sharper focus in unfolding reporting on the pandemic.

We are going learn much more of that story in the coming months.

It is also going to be ugly when we learn who is making a lot of money off this and why. Does anyone doubt that disturbing revelations about profiteering from all this will begin to roll out?

So many lives have been lost, as the president, throughout this crisis, has denied the reality of it all, lest any acknowledgement further harm the promising economy he planned to ride to reelection.

Even today, so far into the trauma this has caused the country, he has refused to issue the presidential directives needed to put the federal government in charge of quickly rolling out the massive testing we need to get back on course toward normalcy.

He is incapable of even a minute of the presidential empathy and leadership the country craves.

Trump, in a clown nose, suggesting we beat the virus by injecting disinfectant, has become a shorthand illustration for the vanity and stupidity that has marked not just his entire presidency, but, more important, the federal government's slow and confusing response to the pandemic.

So he, and we, because we elected him, have become a laughingstock around the world.

But I think it is Trump's denial of the seriousness of the threat and his lies about it that will ultimately be his sad and enduring legacy. It cost lives.

Until now, he has always succeeded in changing the subject and making us forget, forget how he said on tape that he could grab women by the crotch, that North Korea is still making nuclear missiles that could harm us, that global warming is getting worse, that his multi-trillion dollar tax cut created new debt peril for the country so that the rich could get wealthier.

The pandemic is too big for even the ultimate carnival barker to convince us to look away, no matter how hard he tries.

If there is any good in all this it is that the virus appears to have come for Trump, politically anyway, and may get him.

It is heartbreaking that it will have taken so much grief for the country as a whole to finally focus on the fraud we put in the White House.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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