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A new tweet by the presidential candidate Joe Biden presents the dream of a future world without Donald Trump. In this future, the US will "tackle the climate crisis," "build a new economy," and "end our gun violence epidemic." In this Joetopia, the government will work for all, and not "just the wealthy."

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The tweet has been retweeted over 60,000 times. But I think it would have tripled its retweets if it included one more item to its post-Trump list, namely that Americans will finally be given time, as a nation, to process the pandemic and to grieve for the 200,000 (or possibly 250,000, or 300,000—currently 140,000) lives lost during the last year of Trump's presidency.

The US has, so far, had no time to absorb the massive social trauma that the deadly virus has caused. We are tied up with issues that should not be issues: reopening the schools too soon, pushing ahead with reopening the economy in hotspots like Florida, making mask-wearing a matter of personal choice or a statement about your position on Trump. But these issues are just distractions. They keep an emotionally spent public moving from one day to the next without a moment to pause and consider all of those who died in such a short amount of time.

Biden must recognize how unhealthy this state of things is for the general public. The present president will not stop for one moment and just recognize a trauma that's bound to be felt for many proceeding generations. The trauma may even have a long-term negative impact on the US's already crisis-ridden health-care system.


A recent episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah featured an interview with Dr. Michele Harper. She is an ER physician in New Jersey. She has been to hell and back (New Jersey was an early hotspot). She fears going back to hell again, due to the hotspots in the South.

And then there is this:


Noah: In the posts that you've put out about the effect [of the pandemic] on health-care workers, one thing I found really interesting is where you said, "A lot of us, meaning health care workers, don't know if we will come back to this profession, once this is all done." Tell me why there is that sentiment in a lot of the medical community. Because I'm seeing this from many health care workers, who go: "I don't know if this for me. I do not know if I want to be a part of this...

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Dr. Michele Harper: There is a lot of stress. And when I say that we feel we're treated as more disposable than our equipment, that's a real thing. It's a strange thing to be called a hero, and yet I don't believe heroes are put in a position where they do not have the equipment that they need, when they don't have staffing they need in their departments, when their hours are being cut, their pay's being cut because in America health care is, for the most part, like any other private industry, and it's based on profits for a few. That's very demoralizing. And those are the conditions we are working in.

This sense of demoralization is compounded by the fact that many health care workers in hotspots can't go home and emotionally heal or recalibrate with support from partners or family members. After spending hours surrounded by death and suffering, they go to a hotel room or some other deadening place.

The upshot? Health workers will come out of this experience with the mental disorders that afflict soldiers returning from war. The pandemic is also likely to kill a quarter of million American citizens by election day. There will also be more than a million Americans permanently impaired by COVID-19. And millions upon millions of Americans will be caring for the impaired or grieving for the dead. An official recognition of this loss will not take place under Trump. He will not permit it to happen. It is Biden who must include in his list of promises a period of time for nation to begin processing one of the US's greatest social catastrophes.