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‘A slap in the face’: Families of COVID-19 victims slam president’s downplaying of his diagnosis

Advocates warn the president’s cavalier attitude could make the pandemic worse.

On Twitter, supporters of the president praised his strength and hailed his message, calling him “Our beloved President” and “BEST PRESIDENT EVER!”

But for scores of families who’ve lost loved ones to the disease, as well as first responders and other advocates, the response was far different. Many of them slammed the president’s cavalier sentiment and warned that it could make the situation worse.

Brian Walter, a New York City transit worker who lost his father to the virus, told ABC News in a statement that Trump’s advice to people not to fear the coronavirus “hurts.”

“It makes me worry for all the families who will still experience the loss of a loved one because our president refuses to take this pandemic seriously,” he said.

PHOTO: Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Empty chairs who represent a fraction of the more than 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19, are seen during the National COVID-19 Remembrance, at The Ellipse outside the South side of the White House, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

Walter is a member of the survivor network and advocacy group COVID Survivors for Change, which has been documenting the toll the pandemic has left on millions of Americans. On Sunday, the group installed 20,000 empty chairs on the lawn across from the White House to symbolize the nation’s COVID-19 deaths.

Chris Kocher, executive director of COVID Survivors for Change, said in a statement that he was taken aback by Trump’s tweet, given that he had the best health care and treatment in the world — a luxury that most coronavirus patients don’t have.

Trump’s doctors told the press that he was given several medications including an antibody cocktail, remdesivir and steroids.

“For the long haulers living with symptoms of COVID-19 for months on end, this virus is terrifying. Trump doesn’t care, and he still doesn’t get what families are going through,” Kocher said in a statement.

Susan R. Bailey, the president of the American Medical Association, urged Americans to keep heeding warnings from doctors and health experts.

“We know vigilance is the best response to the COVID-19 pandemic because this virus doesn’t feed on fear; it feeds on complacency,” she said in a statement.

Liza Billings, a New York City nurse who lost her brother to the pandemic and is also member of COVID Survivors for Change, criticized Trump’s take on the virus.

“I watched as medical teams fought like hell to save patients from COVID-19.