Over the weekend, President Donald Trump declared he was immune to the coronavirus. He tweeted, with his signature using superfluous exclamation marks, that he couldn’t pass the virus on to others.
“Full and complete approval from White House doctors yesterday,” he wrote on Sunday. “Very nice to know !!!” Yet until Monday, the American people had remained in the dark about the status of the president, and there is still so much we don’t know. We don’t know the last day he tested negative before publicly announcing his positive diagnosis. We don’t know exactly when he started testing negative again, and we don’t know, after a White House event on Saturday in which hundreds of people participated, the actual number of people infected with the virus who came into contact. with the president.
Here’s what we know: Trump’s coronavirus immunity statement is bogus. He presented this information without proof, despite reports this immunity is limited, even in those who have already tested positive. And his utter disregard for the coronavirus – and the nearly 215,000 who have died from it – extends to his own home, where people who are employed to care for the first family have tested positive for the virus. And we also know this to be true: Trump doesn’t care that this virus puts the lives of his staff at risk. And his recklessness is a reflection of his administration’s failed response to a pandemic that is still raging out of control.
While the list of Trump administration officials and advisers who have been infected with the coronavirus is filled with household names like Hope Hicks, Chris Christie, Kellyanne Conway, Kayleigh McEnany and Stephen Miller, some White House staff who contracted COVID-19 received less attention. More specifically, we learned that four members of the White House residence staff, including three housekeeping staff, had tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks.
Which begs the question, since Trump is receiving the best medical care available, what is being done for the people looking after his home? And who defends them?
Residence staff employed at the White House often worked there for decades, cooking, cleaning, and caring for a succession of presidents and first families. These are largely blacks, Latin Americans and the elderly – the populations most at risk for serious complications from COVID. Their work requires proximity to their employers, on whom they cannot necessarily rely to take the precautions that prevent the spread of COVID. This is especially true when your employer is Donald Trump, who not only refused to wear a mask – even after knowing he was infected – but actively discouraged others around him from doing so.
Their workplace may be unusual, but when it comes to COVID, the working conditions of the White House residence staff mirror those of many domestic workers who are employed in American neighborhoods. The power imbalance at home, the lack of traditional protections in the workplace, the precariousness of job security, the inadequate PPE to protect them from a pandemic, to name a few. (After learning of their diagnosis, the first two employees at the White House residence who tested positive for the virus were directed use “discretion”.)
Even though Trump’s recklessness caught up with him, he was never going to suffer the same consequences as other Americans infected with COVID. The president is receiving medical care that most Americans could never hope to have. That includes a fleet of medics to watch him, proven treatments and experimental drug cocktails, and, we can assume, healthcare workers who will meet all of his needs in the White House. His COVID-postive senior aides and advisers can expect a similar level of care, if their condition worsens.
Fresh out of the hospital, Trump Told Americans “Don’t be afraid of Covid” and “Don’t let it rule your life.” But unlike Donald Trump, most Americans don’t have the luxury of just pretending this pandemic isn’t happening. For those who struggle to care for out-of-school children indefinitely; those who have lost their business, job or home; or those who have fallen ill or watched a loved one die from COVID, withdrawing from the chaos is not an option. The only option we have is to vote Trump and the Republicans this election season. This is how we stand up for domestic workers in American homes and in the White House – the people who make all other work possible.
Voting can be difficult, especially this year. But for women, people of color and other groups overlooked and attacked by the Trump administration, it is worth it. Everything is at stake.
We have suffered most from the failures of the Trump administration, so it may not seem fair that we are now called upon to fight to save ourselves and the rest of the United States from yet another catastrophe. But this is our opportunity to demand more and to offer a vision of the future where we all live with dignity. The outcome of this election will have lasting effects on the rights of all Americans, but especially women and people of color. When we vote, it is one way to make a difference in our lives and our communities. And that includes protection from a global pandemic that our current administration still refuses to recognize.
If you can’t vote, remember that political decisions made by elected officials always affect you. Getting involved doesn’t always mean voting at the polls or by mail. Make sure you get involved this election season by encouraging others to vote with your interests in mind.
Throughout the pandemic, Trump has placed the domestic workers who care for him at unnecessary risk. As the events of last week demonstrated, Trump can afford to be reckless because he has all the resources at his disposal. Meanwhile, for now, the workers he has put at risk, both in his home and in America, still face major power imbalances that keep them unprotected at work. But anything else we know? We will determine the outcome of this election. And when women of color vote, we win.
This election season, we have the power.
Visit Care in Action’s voters’ hub or DM us on Twitter and Facebook to find out how to make voting as easy as possible.
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