Skipping family gatherings. Skipping necessary doctor’s appointments. Missing out on time with friends. And the death of loved ones. At this point, COVID-19 has affected every single American in one way or another.
As a frontline health care worker, I have seen firsthand the damage this pandemic has caused. While the death toll has surpassed 225,000 in America alone and hospitalizations begin to rise again, I have gone to work and risked my life to save the lives of others.
It did not have to be this way. And that’s why I’m urging everyone to join me in voting for a change of leadership so we can begin to contain this devastating pandemic.
The President and his Administration knew – and most of us in the health care profession knew – in January that there was a serious virus that was already in the U.S. that had the potential to wreak havoc on our everyday life. By March, we knew this was not the typical flu, but something that would spread at a much higher rate if we did not take the precautions necessary to mitigate its impact.
States began to close themselves because there was no official mandate from the federal government. President Trump repeatedly said the virus would go away. Meanwhile, hospital beds filled up and our access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns began to disappear thanks to a lack of planning by the federal government—putting health care workers at even greater risk.
In past circumstances, we have relied on science to guide us through these difficult illnesses. Contact tracing, testing, and wearing a facemask are essential. Yet, despite plenty of warning and ample time to put these measures into place, our leadership chose to limit these proactive measures, because as President Trump phrased it in a June 15 tweet, testing “makes us look bad.” That was several months into the pandemic. After having tested positive and being hospitalized himself, the President still mocks the usage of masks.
We need to once again allow science to guide us. President Trump has failed to protect the American people through his actions, and there are hundreds of thousands of grieving families today because of his Administration’s inaction.
There are also millions of Americans out of work, families facing childcare crises, evictions, health care workers like myself working hard every day to simply keep victims of this pandemic alive, and no real end in sight as we enter the winter season where things are projected to get much worse.
Health care workers are not the only ones who have a say in the current state of affairs—everyone should be casting their vote.
But seeing firsthand the effects of this pandemic while watching our President not only do nothing, but in fact make matters worse, is as much a call to action as possible. This year, more than ever, health care workers must let their voice be heard and cast a vote. COVID-19 has ruined the lives of far too many families, leading to heartbreak, frustration, anger, and fear. Just like wearing a facemask, do the responsible thing, and do your civic duty. A vote on Tuesday is a vote to end this pandemic.
Kerri Poe is a registered nurse who lives in Phoenix.