Quantcast

Swing-State Doctors: Trump’s “Lies Are Killing My Neighbors”

Image: Kapsner for Wisconsin, Facebook

‘His Lies Are Killing My Neighbors’: Swing-State Doctors Target Trump |

Kaiser Health News – Dr. Chris Kapsner intubated his first COVID-19 patient — a 47-year-old man who arrived short of breath at an emergency room in Minnesota’s Twin Cities — back in April.

Now, seven months later, Kapsner, who lives across the border in Wisconsin, is weary and exhausted from the steady stream of patients arriving with a virus that is spreading across this part of the Midwest. Hospital beds and personal protective equipment are in short supply, and his colleagues are getting sick. “Even if we put up all the field tents in the world, we don’t have the staff for this,” he said.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

Kapsner believes political disfunction at the state level and a “disastrous” federal response are responsible for Wisconsin’s spike in cases. It’s part of the reason he’s running for office.

Kapsner is one of at least four health care workers running for Democratic seats in the Wisconsin state assembly, and one of many in his field, speaking out against President Donald Trump and the GOP’s response to COVID-19.

Wisconsin is in the throes of one of the country’s worst COVID outbreaks. On Oct. 27, the state reported more than 5,000 new cases and a test positivity rate of over 27%. Nearly 2,000 people have died, and only the Dakotas are currently reporting more cases per capita.

Despite this, Trump has been holding large rallies across the state where crowds gather by the thousands, often without masks. Another Trump rally was planned for Monday evening in Kenosha, the site of unrest last summer after Jacob Blake was shot in the back by police. Wisconsin is a crucial swing state in Tuesday’s election; Trump carried the state by just 27,000 votes in 2016 and is currently trailing Joe Biden in the polls.

Last month, a group of 20 doctors sent an open letter to Trump asking him to stop holding rallies in the state. Thursday, the night before Trump was scheduled to appear in Green Bay, hospitals released a joint statement urging locals to avoid large crowds. Earlier in October, the Trump campaign scuttled plans for a rally in La Crosse, in western Wisconsin, after the city’s mayor asked him not to come amid a spike in cases there.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an OB-GYN in Appleton, in eastern Wisconsin, said she struggles to find the right words to describe her anger over the rallies, which have been linked to subsequent coronavirus outbreaks. On Oct. 24, at a rally in Waukesha, about 100 miles south of Appleton, Trump falsely accused health care workers of inflating the number of COVID cases for financial gain.

“His lies are killing my neighbors,” she said.

Lyerly, who is also running for state assembly, said she spends her days trying to reassure terrified pregnant patients, while fearing she might contract the virus herself. She and her colleagues are overwhelmed. She keeps her PPE in her car to ensure she never goes without it. “We’ve completely forgotten about the human impact on our health care workers. Our health care workers are exhausted, they’re burned out and they feel entirely disrespected,” she said.

Lyerly said she decided to run for office in April, after the Republican-controlled assembly refused to postpone a statewide election in which the Democratic presidential primary and a key state Supreme Court seat were on the ballot. The state GOP also stymied efforts to make it easier for Wisconsinites to vote by mail.

“As a physician, I think many of us were shocked that our legislature would put us in danger, and make us decide between our vote and our health,” she said. She’s running in a district that typically leans conservative but said her campaign’s latest polls put her within the margin of error of her opponent, an incumbent.

Dr. Robert Freedland, an ophthalmologist in southwestern Wisconsin and state lead for the Committee to Protect Medicare, signed the letter asking Trump to stop holding rallies in Wisconsin. He wanted to go on the record as having spoken out in the name of public health.

Freedland, who is 65 and has Type 2 diabetes, said he fears for his health when he goes to work.

Dr. Jeff Kushner, a cardiologist who also signed the letter, said he hasn’t been able to work since March because of the pandemic. Kushner, 65, has non-Hodgkins lymphoma and is on immunosuppressants. “If I got COVID, I wouldn’t survive,” he said.

Though he follows politics closely, Kushner said that he’s not “politically involved” and that he tends to keep his politics to himself and a close inner circle. But he said he doesn’t consider signing the letter to Trump a political act. “It’s a statement of what I believe about our society’s health and not a political statement,” he said. “It wasn’t an anti-Trump letter. We were just saying, ‘Please don’t have these superspreader events in our state.’”

Kapsner, the emergency room doctor, said he still speaks with patients and voters who doubt the severity of COVID-19. “My job isn’t to shame them,” he said. “There are many people out here who have had the good fortune of not being personally affected by COVID. Their friends or families haven’t had it yet. I fear their luck is going to run out.”

Subscribe to KHN’s free Morning Briefing.

ALSO ON HEADLINE HEALTH TODAY: Swing-State Doctors Target Trump | “Covid-19 Is Just The Flu” | Ghislaine Evidence Deadline Looms

- Advertisement -

TRENDING

Pa. Voters to Decide Whether Governor Can Keep Nanny-State Powers

Republican lawmakers across the country have tried to roll back the emergency powers that governors wielded during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they ordered businesses shut, mask-wearing in public and students home for distance learning. Pennsylvania‘s Legislature is now taking its case to the ballot.

Hopes for Herd Immunity Fade As Virus Nears Endemic Status

If the virus continues to run rampant through much of the world, it is well on its way to becoming endemic, an ever-present threat.

Risk Of Dying From Covid-19 40 Times The Risk Of Vaccine Blood Clot

CNN – The risk of dying from Covid-19 is 40 times the risk of developing a rare blood clotting condition after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Real Reason ‘Ellen’ Got Canceled

"The toxic company culture, coupled with increased production protocols and costs, created the perfect storm for this completely disjointed show."

GOP Sens. Turn Up Heat On Fauci, CDC

ABC NEWS – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was forced to defend her agency's guidance and even its integrity...

Schools Ditch “Communist” Mask Rules

As a lengthy, bitter fight over mask requirements for students neared its conclusion, the chairperson of a Florida school board announced that she would agree to lift a mandate that had been in place since September even though she preferred leaving it in place until the end of the academic year. Parents hurled insults in response ...

Scientist Keeps Repeating Known COVID Falsehoods

An American scientist claims that Covid-19 vaccines pose safety concerns, including sterilization and changes to DNA, in remarks shared on social media. But experts and public health bodies say there is no evidence that mRNA shots are causing reproductive problems, and are not modifying the genes of recipients.

Black Men Dying At Alarming Rate From Drug Overdoses

Overdose deaths in Massachusetts are rising again, with the most drastic increase in deaths occurring among Black non-Hispanic men in the state.

Florida Teacher Gets 15 Years In Hidden-Cam Case

TAMPA, Fla. – A 52-year-old teacher was sentenced to 15 years in prison for secretly recording videos of students as they changed clothes in...

Is Vaccine Disrupting Women’s Periods?

From heavy flow to even bleeding during menopause - women say they're experiencing different cycles after getting vaccinated.
- Advertisement -