On Sept. 21, our president stated that COVID-19 is not a big deal because it does not affect anyone young. His exact words were: “Now we know it affects elderly people, people with heart problems, people with other problems. It affects virtually nobody under 18, it affects virtually nobody.”
So … nobody because the virus affects only elderly people. Epidemiologically speaking, this is not accurate, but even if it were accurate — what is the take-away? That elderly people do not matter? That they do not count?
I just turned 70, and I matter. Not only do I matter, but all the other boomers also matter. Our lives are important. This should not really need to be said, but evidently an ailing old man needs to hear it. Older people have been disproportionately at risk for mortality from COVID-19. Unlike the president, we do not have a cadre of support staff testing everyone within range of us on a daily basis. Unlike this old man, we have been cloistered for our own good, denied access to our loved ones and friends. It has been a very long seven months. Seven months when we could have, should have, been out and about. We could have if this administration had not failed us so utterly.
What is even more aggravating is to witness other countries going about their socializing and business because they took precautions and vanquished their first wave of infection. The U.S. did not. In fact, even now the president is holding super-spreader events as he rallies his minority base ever more fervently to support him.
When you turn 70, you are acutely aware your “runway” is shorter. You have less time to love those you love, bask in this beautiful natural world and secure whatever legacy you wish to leave behind. Time is irreplaceable, and this extended period of virus transmission has robbed us of time. Time we cannot get back.
Yes, we older folks figure among the dead. Our society has lost beloved mentors, grandparents and friends to the grave. At last count, of the 200,000 deaths 80% are folks over 65 years old. But that matters.
This administration has failed us. Its reaction to the pandemic was characterized by complacency and incompetence. While the president takes no responsibility and claims great success, we, the seniors in America, know the real truth in our hearts. We know the ache of not being able to mourn those we have lost and not seeing any national recognition of those losses.
Yes, we seniors are important. We understand exactly what has been done to us, and to our families and to our friends. Our hearts ache with the callous disregard for life in the campaign rhetoric we are hearing. We all intend to vote for a better way.