President Donald Trump after his release from the hospital for treatment of coronavirus told Americans to not “be afraid of it.” But for those who are suffering the effects of the illness after getting sick, it’s tough not to be dominated by it. (Oct. 9)

AP Domestic

Mark Schultz has been hit on both sides of this pandemic. 

For six months it was his Oshkosh bar and restaurant, both of which are closed for now after being hammered under state coronavirus restrictions.

Now it is Schultz himself, infected with COVID-19, lying in a hospital intensive care unit, laboring to breathe, unsure of when — or whether — he’ll go home.

“I don’t worry much about me, but I got a 10-year-old son and my fiancée — that’s all I care about,” he said through tears. “My family is all at home. They are all worried about me. I don’t want them to worry about me.”

As he spoke by phone, he struggled with short breaths and was interrupted at times by fits of coughs.

“I don’t want them to go through this,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I hope I get to go home.”

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Schultz, 64, is the co-owner of Oblio’s, a bar in Oshkosh that is beloved by a city that had the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in the country as of Sept. 30, according to a New York Times analysis. 

At Oblio’s, Schultz said he has three simple rules before people can belly up to the bar: Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about religion. And don’t talk about someone’s wife. 

Now, as he receives oxygen from a machine, Schultz says he has been pushed to break that first rule by President Donald Trump.

“I always had to keep my politics to myself, but from where I’m sitting now? Those days are over,” Schultz said.

“I shouldn’t be here.”

Trump, he said, should have been more upfront with the public from the beginning about the dangers of the coronavirus, should have acted quicker and promoted wearing face masks. If he had, Schultz believes, maybe the pandemic would not have struck his community so hard, might not have wound up at his door.

Schultz says he started to feel sick last Friday, the same day the White House revealed Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

On Monday, Trump told Americans “Don’t be afraid of COVID.” On Tuesday, Schultz checked into the hospital.

“I’m just frustrated with the president — the nonchalantness of this virus,” he said. “They should be afraid. It’s nothing to mess with.”

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‘If you can’t breathe, you can’t sleep’