On Thursday, writing for the Huffington Post, Walter Reed Medical Center housekeeper Helen Avalos — a survivor of COVID-19 — opened up about how different her experience of the disease was than President Donald Trump, who received top-level hospital care at the very same facility.
“I am blessed to have my job,” wrote Avalos. “But here’s the thing. Within the walls of Walter Reed, there is a tale of two pandemics. The president received the best medical attention that taxpayer money could buy ― to the tune of over $100,000. But as the housekeepers, janitors, cooks, security and other service workers at Walter Reed, our experience with COVID-19 has been nothing like Mr. Trump’s.”
“I had COVID-19 earlier this year, as did several of my colleagues,” wrote Avalos. “We all have had several friends and family members pass away from the virus, including nearly 140 members of my union, SEIU 32BJ. We did not have the benefit of being rushed to a hospital with a team of doctors devoted to us. All we could do was isolate ourselves at home and do everything we could to beat it on our own. We were told to only go to the hospital if we had trouble breathing because, thanks to the Trump administration’s failure to control the pandemic, our health care system was too overwhelmed to care for us.”
“Unlike the president, I had no professional care to reassure me or treat new pains or changes in my condition,” continued Avalos. “I took care of myself drinking home remedies, alone in my bedroom. I tried to stay calm and reassure myself that I’d fully recover. I did everything I could not to expose my family.”
All of this, wrote Avalos, makes it more galling that the president removed his mask publicly the instant he was released from the hospital, and that he continues to downplay the dangers of the virus to his supporters.
“It especially angers me to watch as he campaigns to win over Latino voters, while Black and Latino people are roughly two to three times more likely than their white counterparts to contract the coronavirus, roughly four times more likely to be hospitalized and nearly three times as likely to die from the virus that the president has failed to contain,” added Avalos. “I will never forgive the president for putting so many lives in danger when his job is to protect us.”
“In these painful times, I dream of having a competent and honest leader in the White House who recognizes our sacrifice. Joe Biden has promised to treat us like the essential workers we are, by giving us paid leave, hazard pay, free testing, affordable treatment and expanded unemployment,” concluded Avalos. “Doing all that we can to save lives must also include voting for change.”
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