Earlier this month in Florida, I met Esther Segura, a nurse who spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve as an operating room technician. She’s spent this year juggling raising two teenage daughters as a single mom and working on the front lines fighting against this pandemic.
Esther loves helping people — she says it’s in her blood. And she loves our country. But she’s worried about it, because she believes our president doesn’t respect people like her.
She’s seen first-hand how he has failed to protect the workers on the front lines of a pandemic that disproportionately impacts Black and brown Americans — who are 3 times as likely to be infected, and are dying at twice the rate of white Americans.
In his own words, President Donald Trump knew that COVID-19 was a dangerous and communicable disease. It’s on tape. But he did nothing. He claims that he hid this life-saving information from the American people because he didn’t want us to panic — but the truth is, he panicked, with tragic results. He failed to protect Americans.
And now, in the middle of a pandemic, his lawyers are in the U.S. Supreme Court trying to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, increase health care costs, and strip health insurance protections from 8 million Floridians with pre-existing conditions. If they succeed, and you have long-term side effects from COVID-19 or other illnesses like asthma or diabetes, your insurance company could once again jack up your premiums or deny you coverage.
This is deadly serious: President Trump is trying to take your health care away during a pandemic. And it’s part of a bigger pattern: We simply can’t trust this president to care.
One day before we crossed the threshold of 200,000 deaths, President Trump held a rally and insisted that COVID-19 only impacts “elderly people. Elderly people with heart problems and other problems.” He said it “affects virtually nobody.”
Think about that — who was the president talking about when he said it affects “virtually nobody?” He was talking about seniors — seniors who worked hard their entire lives, and deserve security, respect and peace of mind in their golden years.
But they’re not getting it — because to Donald Trump, they’re expendable.
When he was asked about the fact that 1,000 Americans are dying from COVID-19 every day, he said, “It is what it is.”
Well, it is what it is because he is who he is.
Unlike President Trump, I’ve had a plan to confront this pandemic since March.
It starts with listening to the scientists and getting the virus under control. We will make testing free, quick and available. We’ll make treatment free, too. And as soon as we have a safe and effective vaccine, we will ensure everyone can get it without having to pay a dime.
The simple sad truth is that this president is not in office to serve the American people. He’s in it to serve himself.
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Sen. Kamala Harris and I are in this for you and your families. And our goal isn’t to just reverse the damage done by President Trump. We need to do better. We’re going to build our economy back better than before.
We will not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year. Period. We’ll make big corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. And with the help of that revenue, we’ll not only protect Social Security and Medicare, we’ll create millions of good paying jobs in manufacturing, technology, and clean energy — because we need to make sure our future is Made in America.
We’ll give folks a hard-earned raise by passing a $15 federal minimum wage. We’ll ease the burden of the major costs in your life — lowering the cost of health care, expanding access to child care, and making higher education more affordable. We’ll protect Social Security and expand benefits for millions of seniors.
And we’ll immediately address the untenable situation in Puerto Rico, where more than 3 million American citizens have been ignored for far too long. We can’t keep treating the people of Puerto Rico as second-class citizens.
So much is on the ballot in this election. The soul of America — the very reason families like Esther’s came here in the first place — is on the ballot.
And if elected, I will work every day to bring this country back together.
That’s the job of a president — the duty to care for everyone.
And you have a sacred duty as well — to vote.
You can still request your vote-by-mail ballot. If you have it already, mail it or drop it in a dropbox today. You can also vote early in-person starting as early as today, Oct. 19. Go to IWillVote.com/FL to find out more.
No matter what — don’t let anyone discourage you or tell you your voice won’t count.
Floridians know this better than anyone. You will decide our future. And the path to a brighter one runs right through the Sunshine State.
Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.