Mike Pence can’t spin 5,000 Ohioans’ deaths with a photo op
By Dr. Anita Somani
As the Buckeye State copes with the loss of more than 5,000 of our fellow Ohioans to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been clearer that this crisis is not going to simply “disappear” as Donald Trump once promised. We don’t need Mike Pence holding a pep rally in central Ohio to distract from Trump’s failures — we need a national plan to guide us out of this emergency and a president with the capacity to get it done.
We are living through one of the greatest challenges in our nation’s history, one that has destroyed jobs, devastated communities, and upended any sense of normalcy. At the outset of the pandemic, Ohio had the good fortune to have Dr. Amy Acton guiding us with her extraordinary empathy, a relentless commitment to telling the truth and absolute allegiance to the principles of science, not political ideology. In May, I was proud to stand outside the Ohio Statehouse with a number of my colleagues in the Physicians Action Network in support of Dr. Acton. All across the state, Ohioans stepped up in big ways and small, to keep one another safe and healthy.
Medical professionals stand in support of Dr. Acton at the Ohio Statehouse, 6 feet apart
Around 30 healthcare workers wearing masks and PPE held homemade signs and maintained distance, marked by red rope held…
In contrast, Trump downplayed the virus and left us to fend for ourselves. He turned the wearing of masks — one of the most important tools we have for controlling the pandemic — into a political issue and mocked those who simply wanted to protect their friends, co-workers, and loved ones.
As a doctor, I have seen firsthand how the politicization of this issue has affected my patients. Because of the mixed messages coming from our leaders, many Ohioans question whether wearing masks is necessary or helpful. This has put them at increased risk for infection, when many of my patients are already in the high-risk population because of co-morbidities like obesity, asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Now we’re seeing increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, and they’re happening more and more in rural Ohio.
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The death of 5,000 Ohioans is a tragedy, but it’s one that was entirely preventable. It didn’t have to be this bad. From the beginning, Trump knew the dangers posed by COVID-19 for months — he said as much on tape. Despite admitting he knew of the dangers his advisors warned him about, he refused to take action to limit the spread of the virus.
Even after the crisis was too big to ignore, Trump refused to take responsibility. He took to Twitter to blame governors, the media, and even health care workers for his own inept response. Time and again, he has muzzled scientists and contradicted public health experts if and when it suited his own political interests.
Perhaps worst of all, Trump is actively fighting to take away Ohioans’ health care in the midst of a still-worsening pandemic. If his lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act succeeds, hundreds of thousands of Ohioans would lose their health insurance, and millions more would lose coverage protections for pre-existing conditions like pregnancy, cancer, asthma, and even COVID-19.
The sheer ineptitude of the Trump administration’s response has earned a rare rebuke from an esteemed medical journal. In the first political editorial they have published in more than two centuries of existence, the New England Journal of Medicine wrote, “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent.”
New England Journal of Medicine: 'Dangerously incompetent' politicians must go
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And as Mike Pence visited central Ohio this week to try to make us forget the Trump administration’s incompetence, Ohioans are still losing friends and loved ones, denied the chance to offer a proper goodbye. Health care workers are still putting their lives on the line without the resources they deserve. And all of us still face the prospect of an administration with no plan to make things better.
However, it’s not too late to turn things around with the right leadership in the Oval Office. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have a comprehensive plan to fight this pandemic and get America back on the right track. We can’t afford another day of Trump’s chaos, let alone four more years. It’s on us to put this failed presidency to an end and finally set us on the course to recovery.