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Not with a gun on Fifth Avenue, but Trump killed a family friend

I can remember like it was yesterday, a March Zoom call celebrating my step-grandson's birthday, a jolly but also strange experience, as we were all getting accustomed to the new world of pandemic socializing.

On that party call was a woman who was like an aunt to the birthday boy, and she was joining the celebration from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y.

She explained at the end of the Zoom birthday party, as some of us lingered on the call, that she was recovering from COVID-19, but felt pretty good.

She and other friends in New York, she explained, had been caught off guard and became infected with the virus as it swept quickly and unexpectedly through the city.

No wonder.

President Donald Trump, we now know from tape recordings by reporter Bob Woodward for his new book "Rage," knew early on, before my grandson's dear friend got sick, that the virus was airborne, easy to catch and deadly.

But the president didn't give her or the thousands of others like her, crowding in New York offices, on sidewalks and in subway cars, the warning they should have had, to take the proper precautions.

Trump, he confessed to Woodward, instead "downplayed" the virus early on, even after being warned of the devastating consequences that lay ahead for the country.

On Feb. 28,  around the time my family's friend may have contracted COVID-19, Trump said the virus was being used against him by Democrats, a "hoax," like impeachment.

Trump and his allies in the Republican establishment, since the Woodward book was published, have tried to compare the president's admitted "downplaying" of the virus to Winston Churchill's calming of the public during World War II.

Of course the opposite is true. Churchill leveled with people about the grave risks that were ahead. He trusted and prepared them.

If Trump were Churchill, there apparently wouldn't have been sirens warning of bomb attacks on London because, Prime Minster Trump might have later told a British journalist, that could have panicked people. He wouldn't have had a plan to win that war, either.

No sirens sounded in New York as the virus bombs began falling this spring, even though President Trump knew how deadly they would be.

"This is deadly stuff ... you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed," Trump told Woodward in early February.

If only he had leveled then with the American people and warned them.

My 5-year-old grandson probably won't understand for a long time why someone who loved and doted on him so much disappeared so suddenly from his life.

I believe someday he will come to understand, through the telling of history, that the 45th president of the county was at fault, having bungled the response to the pandemic, the same way he bankrupted so many businesses, exercising ego instead of competence, the way he bilked unsuspecting victims of his Trump University scam.

My family's friend had a relapse after that birthday party, discovering that she hadn't recovered after all. A team of doctors who had come from around the country to help New Yorkers at that time of crisis, were not able to save her after agonizing weeks of hospitalization.

Even this week, the president continues to mismanage the public health crisis and put more lives at risk, contradicting the science-based advice from his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the importance of wearing masks.

Even more alarming, he is now suggesting that deaths in blue states not be counted when comparing the United States' fallout from the pandemic to the death rates of other countries.

That's us, here in Connecticut, a blue state where the president evidently doesn't care whether we live or die, or at least whether our deaths are counted, since we're not likely going to help him get reelected.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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