If you can consider yourself lucky saying goodbye to your father through a plastic face mask and with gloved hands, then the Lambrecht family was just that.
The family was allowed, two at a time, into Douglas Lambrecht’s intensive-care room at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in the first hour of March 1, just as he became one of the first in the United States to die of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
In the days after, as the number of COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths in the Seattle area and around the world soared, so did Nathan Lambrecht’s anger over what he believes President Donald Trump failed to do to save his father and those who died after him.
Last Sunday, Lambrecht, 29, wrote a letter to Trump, letting him know about his family’s loss, and rebuking the administration for what he saw as inaction and carelessness.
“I personally hold the current administration directly responsible for the untimely death of my father,” Lambrecht wrote. “I’ve always assumed one of the main functions of a government is to provide for and protect its citizens. Instead, what I have seen is blatant disregard for our nation’s safety and our government’s inability to proactively respond in the face of a global pandemic.”
He cited what he sees as “numerous false claims” that the virus would not affect Americans “all whilst having information which clearly indicated a dire warning.”
“Putting the stock market over the welfare of citizens, more than once,” Lambrecht wrote. “The unwillingness to defend our elderly and our immuno-compromised with pre-emptive measures, while experts vocalized their concern over what was coming. In any other scenario, this would sound like criminal negligence and murder.”
He signed it, “A Grieving Son.” He also sent a copy to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
The White House did not respond to a Seattle Times email asking whether the letter had made it there, or how many letters Trump receives in a day. Inslee’s office was working to track down its copy, which was sent not to Inslee but senior staff.
Lambrecht, who works at Costco and lives in Woodinville, stressed that his letter has nothing to do with politics. “I won’t pick a side,” he said of his own leanings.
Rather, he said, this is a moral issue.
“When I see (Trump) speak, I see someone who isn’t true to his word,” Lambrecht said. “I don’t trust a man who will go back on what he says. He’s not even in reality.
“A lot of what I wrote was me trying to wrap my own head about how I felt,” he continued. “I am obviously grieving and directing it in a specific direction. But I still feel there are people who are directly responsible, mostly in inaction.”
Douglas Lambrecht, 71, was a longtime emergency-room doctor at Valley Medical Center in Renton. In 2013, he underwent a kidney transplant and last month suffered renal failure. He underwent dialysis at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland and, on Feb. 11, was sent to Life Care Center of Kirkland to recover.
Two weeks later, he developed what looked like pneumonia: fever, difficulty breathing. He was sent back to EvergreenHealth on Feb. 26 and went straight to the intensive-care unit.
“He never left,” said his wife, Karen. He died just before 1 a.m. on March 1. His daughter, who is pregnant with the Lambrechts’ second grandchild, wasn’t allowed in to say goodbye to her father.
“It was brutal,” Nathan Lambrecht said.
Karen Lambrecht is grateful to her son for speaking for her family, and so many others impacted by COVID-19 — those out of work, isolated and anxious.
“I was proud of him for doing this,” she said, adding that their family — including three other children, one grandchild and a second on the way — are all on the same page: It’s a moral issue, not political.
“I would love for Nathan’s letter to land on Trump’s desk,” she said, adding that even if it did, she didn’t think he would read it.
“I can’t imagine in a million years it would happen,” she said. “(Trump) would just throw it in the trash can.”
Nathan Lambrecht can’t say what he expects to happen to his letter once it reaches The White House.
“The only fantasy I have is it being put on (Trump’s) desk and him looking at it,” he said. “But knowing him, I don’t expect much.
“I just want him to know, the whole administration to know, how I feel about this and how it affects me and my family.”