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Dr. Rachel Hughes: Dear President Trump: From a Wisconsin emergency physician

Dr. Rachel Hughes: Dear President Trump: From a Wisconsin emergency physician

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President Trump, when you visit Janesville this weekend will you honor the 1,500 Wisconsinites who have lost their lives to this pandemic? Will you remember our friends, grandparents, mothers, fathers, siblings and children? Will you grieve for them too? 

We are suffering. Do you even notice?

Before the pandemic, your economic policies actively hurt Wisconsin by putting billionaires and big corporations first. Between rising housing costs, wages not keeping up with the cost of living, record numbers of family farm closures and nearly non-existent benefits, many in the Badger State were just barely getting by. You pointed to the stock market to tout your success. Here in Wisconsin, we looked to our friends and neighbors and saw a shrinking and forgotten middle class.

Your decision to politicize prevention has directly led to the inability of schools to open this fall. The fallout from your lack of leadership has fragmented families and pushed many Americans into poverty as the economy continues to sputter. Your refusal to address the gaps in our health care system and your ongoing attacks against the Affordable Care Act show your lack of respect for hardworking families and demonstrate your belief that excellent health care is only for the wealthy. Moreover, your failure to mobilize the full capacity of your office to support front-line medical workers across the country leaves those Wisconsinites most at risk to fall through the widening gaps, and is a death sentence for many.

As an emergency medicine physician, I am on the front lines of this battle, which is now claiming 20 Wisconsinites a day. Just yesterday, I spoke with a 57-year-old woman and couldn’t tell her whether she would ever leave the hospital to see her husband or children again. Your failed leadership has put both the financial and physical health of Badger State residents in jeopardy. We have run out of hospital beds. You have forced us to ration time, space and supplies. You mock our seniors in your tweets, but here in Wisconsin we are struggling to find enough staff to care for our elderly family members as more and more health care workers contract the virus.

This week, with your rallies and campaigning, you flout the warnings of our health care professionals. We are wearing masks, working from home, and guiding our children through the circus of remote learning. You show utter disregard for the health and safety of those around you, and especially here in Wisconsin, as we continue to shatter pandemic records.

To add insult to injury, along with your hypocritical allies in the Senate, you are jamming through a Supreme Court nominee in an attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act. How is it good policy to strip 20 million Americans of their health care coverage in the middle of a pandemic? Wisconsinites work hard and keep their promises. We have heard your promises to develop a plan for healthcare, protect Americans with preexisting conditions and lower drug prices. You have had four years and we are still waiting.

Wisconsin is a state of extraordinary people and we are proud of the records we set — from touchdown passes at Lambeau, 5-foot muskies, and leading the country in cheese and cranberry production to being the first state to give women the right to vote in federal elections. Currently, we are setting daily records for COVID-19 infections and deaths. This is not a record we can be proud of and it didn’t have to be this way. As we surpass 1,500 Wisconsin deaths since the beginning of the outbreak, we are still asking the question: when will you put Badger State lives ahead of your political agenda?

Dr. Rachel Hughes is an emergency medicine physician in southern Wisconsin and an Opportunity Wisconsin steering committee member. 

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