Frontline healthcare workers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)
Skipping family gatherings. Skipping necessary doctor’s appointments. Missing school. Missing time with friends. Losing jobs. And the deaths of loved ones. At this point, COVID-19 has affected every single American in one way or another.
As a frontline healthcare worker, I have seen firsthand the damage this pandemic has caused. While the death toll has surpassed 225,000 in the United States 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 with me in voting for a change of leadership so we can begin to contain this devastating pandemic. No matter where you live or whether you’ve ever voted before, if you’re eligible to vote, please go out and make your voice heard for change.
President Trump and his administration – and most of us in the healthcare profession – knew in January that there was a serious virus already in the U.S. that had the potential to wreak havoc on our everyday lives. 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 quickly and easily. 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 that put healthcare 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 national 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 use of masks and downplays the virus’ risk and toll.
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, and more every day, because of his administration’s inaction.
There are also millions of Americans out of work, and many families are facing childcare crises and evictions. Healthcare workers like myself are working hard every day to simply keep victims of this pandemic alive, and there is no real end in sight as we enter the winter season where things are projected to get much worse.
Healthcare workers are not the only ones who have a say in the current state of affairs—everyone should be casting their vote. Even if you live in New York or another state where you may not think the electoral votes are in play, everyone’s votes matter and are shown in tallies of the final results.
Seeing firsthand the effects of this pandemic while our president not only does nothing, but in fact makes matters worse, is as much a call to action as possible. This year, more than ever, healthcare workers must let their voices be heard and cast a vote. And so must anyone who sees the wreckage that the virus has caused, made much worse by the president’s failed leadership.
COVID-19 has ruined the lives of far too many families, and led to too much 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.
Chandra Tameshwar is a Registered Nurse who has worked in Brooklyn for five years and is a member of 1199 SEIU.