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OP-ED: To beat COVID-19, we must dump Trump

Mark Anthony Espinoza
Tribune News Service
Supporters listen in their cars as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a drive-in campaign rally at Riverside High School on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina. Biden is campaigning on Sunday in the battleground state that President Donald Trump won in 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

This spring, as schools in my community closed for instruction due to COVID-19, many school buildings remained open to serve hungry kids, first responders and essential workers. My work as a school cleaner suddenly became an essential job. Then the virus hit home.

I got sick, as did my wife. My dad and grandmother got sick too, and both died from the disease.

Since my recovery, I've shown up for work every day. The schools cannot function without people like me who meticulously clean and sanitize every doorknob, desk, toilet and high-touch surface. It's not an exaggeration to say that my work can make the difference between life and death. By ensuring school buildings are safe, I can eliminate some suffering.

Like many Americans, I had hoped that President Donald Trump's bout with COVID-19 would help him understand the uncertainty and fear that millions of Americans face each day. That clearly did not happen. The superspreader in chief doesn't want to end the suffering.

And so I've channeled my outrage and carved out hours from my busy life to campaign for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I want leaders who care about the workers who keep the economy running, who believe in science and who will take action to expand health coverage so people can take care of themselves and their families when they're sick.

My wife and I are expecting our first child at the end of this year. We plan to name her Annalise. I lay awake at night wondering what kind of world we are bringing her into. I want it to be one where Trump doesn't determine so much of our lives.

As a member of a union of essential workers, I've personally seen how the actions and inactions of the federal government trickle down to working people. Donald Trump was able to get top-notch care, even experimental treatments, at no cost to himself as soon as he was diagnosed, unlike more than 215,000 Americans, including at least 138 of my fellow union members who have died from COVID-19 this year.

My father and grandmother contracted the virus at a time when masks, PPE and hand sanitizer were scarce, a deadly side effect of the utter incompetence, denial and lies from the Trump administration. They died in hospitals completely overwhelmed by the early stages of the outbreak, made infinitely worse by the Trump administration's outright refusal to provide any meaningful help, leaving states to fend for themselves for testing, respirators and PPE for medical personnel.

Biden and Harris have offered a plan for a comprehensive approach to fighting COVID-19 that focuses on testing, PPE and national standards to reopen safely so kids can get back to school and the economy can get back on track.

As the president uses his taxpayer-funded government health care to get life-saving treatment, he and his Republican supporters are actively seeking to get the U.S. Supreme Court to destroy the Affordable Care Act. There is a tragic irony in the fact that the Rose Garden superspreader event that led to the wave of Republican infections was to announce the nomination of a new justice whose first order of business may well be to take away health care for millions of Americans.

Everyone should have access to quality care, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Joe Biden gets it and, as our next president, he would work hard to stop the spread of coronavirus, ensure everyone can get the care they need.

The coming birth of our little girl Annalise keeps me motivated during these difficult times. I want to welcome her to a country where Biden and Harris are in place to not just to clean up the mess that Trump created but to build a better future for us all.

— Mark Anthony Espinoza is a cleaner at a New York City public school in Queens. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.