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Grieving families say Trump’s experience with COVID-19 doesn’t mirror reality

When Carol Ackerman’s dad was dying of COVID-19, he wasn’t getting attention from infectious disease specialists or treatment from expensive, experimental drugs. Instead, he got an orthopedic surgeon — a specialist in muscle, tendon, bone and ligament health — who was doing his best under difficult circumstances.



a couple of people posing for the camera: Carol Ackerman's father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.


© Carol Ackerman
Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

“They had so many patients that it was all hands on deck,” Ackerman explained.

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But looking back on the options her dad had, and comparing that to the now daily updates about the care President Donald Trump has received following his coronavirus diagnosis, Ackerman said, “It’s just not fair.”

“And I think what truly would have made a difference is our government not downplaying this disease,” she added.

As Trump this week crows about his first-rate medical care — which included a rare experimental antibody treatment available to fewer than 10 people outside medical trials — and declares victory in the pandemic, many Americans hit by virus are struggling to share his optimism.

More than 211,000 people have died in the pandemic, and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, this week predicted that the death toll could go as high as 300,000 to 400,000 if serious action isn’t taken soon.

Meanwhile, Trump has used his fight against the virus to minimize the tragedy, declaring his coronavirus diagnosis a “blessing in disguise” in a polished video from the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday.

MORE: ‘An embarrassment’: Trump tweet angers pandemic survivors

His message leaves families like Ackerman’s trying to square the president’s overly optimistic message with their own reality.

“With his power of being president comes privilege, and that’s the way it should be, despite what my political beliefs or somebody else’s might be,” Ackerman said. “But I think that everybody should get the same kind of attention.”

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Recently, Ackerman shared a photo of her 79-year old father on Twitter. Sick and pale in a hospital gown, an oxygen mask covering most of his face, he didn’t match the president’s rosy description of fighting the virus, nor did he look like himself: the full-time immigration attorney who used to personally drive his clients to their hearings in his old Cadillac.



a group of people posing for the camera: Carol Ackerman's father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.


© Carol Ackerman
Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

“I’m sure that he’d be upset with me if he knew I shared that, but I wanted it to be real,” Ackerman said. “These are real people, these are everyday Americans that got sick through no fault of their own, and died.”

Across the country, families who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus over the past eight months echoed Ackerman’s sentiments, calling the fallout of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis this past week at once triggering and bewildering.

“Don’t be