• Jerry L. Burrell

Dear Donald - April 3, 2020

Updated: Apr 27

Dear Donald,

Today is Friday, April 3, 2020 and I want to thank you for the travel restrictions you announced January 31, 2020 for foreign nationals on flights from China. I am not sure the article in the New England Journal of Medicine published January 31, 2020 had anything to do with your decision but If you haven’t read it here is the brief of that article. It is about the treatment given to the first known case of the novel coronavirus in the US. He was an American citizen who had returned to the US on January 15, 2020 after a trip to Wuhan, China. The brief of the article which was recently re-published on March 5, 2020 provides a timeline of symptoms and treatments provided and is more detailed than I expected.


If I were president, I would have enacted travel restrictions just like you did along with the mandatory quarantines for American citizens returning from Hubei Province. Expecting American citizens traveling from other parts of China to self isolate for 14 days upon arriving back to the US was a bit too optimistic, I'm afraid. As was ignoring the thousands and possibly tens of thousands of Chinese nationals and other American citizens that had already arrived from China on the many flights that arrived at US airports every single day of the month of January leading up to your restrictions which were not enacted until February 2, 2020.


Here is an article from CNN also published on January 31, 2020. It refers to a case in Illinois that was recognized as the first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the United States. I doubt the CNN article had anything to do with your decision to restrict travel since you claim they are “fake news” but maybe if you or one of the people in your administration had read that article, you would have acted quickly to combat coronavirus seeing as how you said you “knew it was a pandemic long before it was”. The “war” had officially begun way back then with six other confirmed cases that emerged in the United States by January 31, 2020: one in Arizona, three in California and two in Illinois.


You don’t know me and you may be wondering why I am writing you. Let me be clear:

I am not an epidemiologist.

I am not an expert at much that relates to the nuts & bolts of this crisis we are engaged in.

But I am a proud American citizen and

I am angry.


My sister, my nephew and possibly even my Mom may have had mild cases of Coronavirus. I use the term “may” because we will probably never know. My sister occasionally relies on a tank of oxygen to insure that she has adequate oxygenation. When she showed up at a hospital emergency room on March 18, 2020 with fever, body aches and general flu symptoms she was very concerned because of her pre-existing breathing issues. She was given some medicine for the body aches which brought her blood pressure down and was told by the emergency room doctors that it could be the flu, the novel coronavirus or something else. She was instructed to go home, isolate and “act as if you have been infected with coronavirus.”


When I spoke with her the next day she said the doctors told her they were unable to test her for the novel coronavirus. A few days later my Mom began experiencing the same symptoms my sister had. I spent the following 2 weeks calling them and checking in and masking the anxiety I was experiencing even though they were both “feeling better”. I was anxious because there were so many anecdotal cases that started out rough with people having flu symptoms initially and then thinking they were “getting better” only to experience an 'all of a sudden' downturn. Only yesterday, 2 weeks since my sister's emergency room visit, did I begin to breathe easier.


I've had this underlying anxiety related to this novel coronavirus since late January but only in the last few days have I recognized the anger that's been festering. Today, I realized that the primary target of my anger is you. I have learned that the best way to deal with my anger is to write it out of me. Along with pulling weeds, this writing is my therapy.


I just got a notification on my phone that you announced new face mask recommendations during your coronavirus press briefing which I no longer listen to live and only read about later. There are numerous other sources that I consult to find out about your updates. I've seen the articles saying the virus can be aerosolized not only from coughing and sneezing but also from talking and even breathing. Research shows the droplets can potentially hang in the air for 3 hours. I understand the research was done in a lab, not in the real world but think about it: Everyone who has ever engaged in conversations with other people realizes that spittle is released when people talk. That spittle, while not explosively expelled like during a sneeze or cough, is potentially just as toxic if laced with the novel coronavirus.


Yes, we SHOULD all be wearing masks when out in grocery stores and handling other essential matters around fellow citizens because, for example, there are times when we pass within 6 feet of each other and if we say “excuse me” as we habitually do while passing close to each other during this time, we may be releasing aerosolized spittle that could contaminate others if we are unknowingly infected.


It is my opinion that you and your task force have held off suggesting all Americans wear masks because it could highlight the negligence of you and the people you put in charge to protect us from this pandemic. I can imagine the closed door, task force conversations that include questions like “There are a lot of articles out about the wisdom of everyone wearing a mask, how long before we give the American people specific guidance on this?” or “How can we ask regular people to wear a mask when we cannot even provide masks for health workers?” or “What if we focused on saving lives instead of spinning the truth to make Donald look good?” That last question probably would not have been asked out loud but I hope there is someone in those meetings who would have at least thought it.


I just got another news notification that you are recommending all Americans wear “cloth” masks but that you are choosing not to do it. You go Boy!


In case you are not aware, please note that as of right now on April 3, 2020 at 7:17pm EST UNDER YOUR LEADERSHIP, there are over 7000 Americans killed by COVID-19 and between 272,000 - 276,000 CONFIRMED cases with around 12,000 recovered. Just think, it was just 63 days ago that we had zero deaths and 6 confirmed cases. If only we began fighting this "war" then, we may have defeated the enemy by now. Maybe you can negotiate a deal with the virus since nobody does deals like you do.


Again, this is my anger speaking. This is my therapy. I think you may know a thing about telling it like it is.


Until, next time, please be mindful about saving lives and less concerned with appearing like you are in control of this thing. You can control yourself and to an extent those who are afraid of you but you cannot control this virus, none of us can. The uncertainty related to this virus is hard to accept, especially when over 300 million people are relying on you. Trust me, once you accept the uncertainty and truly focus on saving lives, you just may be able to lead effectively.


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Information







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