“The most vulnerable people have been thrown under the bus”

Long COVID sufferer in Florida denounces the abandonment of all pandemic response

The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to Jennifer, a Long-COVID sufferer living in Florida whose health and quality of life dramatically altered after contracting SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020. Jennifer’s experience is being submitted as testimony to the Global Workers’ Inquest into the COVID-19 Pandemic, which seeks to break through the lies, cover-ups and misinformation spread internationally by capitalist governments and the media. Her comments have been edited slightly for clarity and length.

Patrick Smith (PS): Can you tell us about your experience having gone through two COVID-19 infections?

Jennifer (J): I first got sick in March 2020 while working in New York City. I was living there at the time and taking the subway back and forth to work. I was working in in-person sales. I remember it because it was St. Patrick’s day, March 17. I got very, very sick for six weeks. My initial symptoms were extreme fatigue, congestion, migraine headaches, terrible diarrhea, chest pain and breathlessness.

The second time I contracted the virus was at a Target Optical center a couple of months ago. I was wearing an N95 mask, but the person fitting me for glasses frames was not wearing a mask. That was the only contact I had. I still have migraines after contracting it the second time. I’m so tired that I have difficulty getting out of bed to brush my teeth. This is aging me prematurely.

PS: Can you tell us more about your experience with Long COVID and how it has impacted your life?

J: I have extreme fatigue and brain fog. My brain is not as sharp cognitively as it used to be. Everything has to be planned strategically to figure out how I can do basic tasks. Everything takes more energy to do. I feel like I’m 90 years old, but I know 90-year-old people that are in better shape than me. I’m only 46.

I have been exhausted and am happy I’m working from home, because when I get out of bed in the morning I barely have enough energy to put some clothes on to look good on Zoom. But, as soon as I finish work, I return to bed. I can’t go for a walk. I have post-exertion malaise, meaning doing basic tasks takes all my strength. Just standing up to do laundry is exhausting.

One time, I was experiencing chest pain so badly that I thought I had a heart attack. So, I went to the emergency room and was traumatized because I was there for 14 hours, just in the waiting room, a high-risk patient next to COVID patients. After all, they were running out of beds. This was at JFK Medical in south Florida. When I finally got into the bed provided for me, they told me they were out of Tele-Pack units, a system that combines a monitor, a light source and a camera, so they couldn’t treat me.

I’m afraid to go to the hospital because I fear contracting COVID-19 again. None of the staff are masked, so you may catch something worse than what you’re going in for.

PS: You started an online petition to demand the reinstatement of mitigation measures such as mask mandates in Florida. What led you to do so?

J: We have anti-mask Republicans in one camp, and in the other, the Democratic Party has gaslighted the public into thinking that if we get COVID, it’s somehow our fault. It shows how weak they are. It’s challenging to realize that the party you’ve voted for all these years is gaslighting Americans, telling us COVID is over when it is airborne, and taking away all of our mitigations. The most vulnerable in society are at risk since it is a mass disabling event that makes anyone and everyone vulnerable. Currently, the most vulnerable people have been thrown under the bus.

I started the petition because I kept getting kidney infections, and I noticed that in May of 2022, nobody was masked during medical appointments, and nobody wore masks in public anymore. I started to feel upset. The public was being told that it was safe not to wear masks. Especially when Biden declared the pandemic was over. He made a promise that he would advocate for immunocompromised people and to beat this pandemic. When he was running for president, he chastised Trump for the high COVID numbers, and now he is doing the same thing as Trump.

My Dad tested positive for COVID on Saturday. I am being treated as if it is my third infection. He is oblivious and has a mental illness. I am at risk in the home and looking for a new place to live.

When US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle overturned the mask restrictions, the CDC and White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha immediately accepted this decision. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is advocating for eugenics. She had taken the “let it rip” ideology as far as possible when she said it was “encouraging news” that COVID-19 predominantly kills people who are “unwell to begin with.” As long as the economy is doing well, that’s all they care about.

Anybody that is autoimmune or older is excluded from society. Since this decision was made, in Florida, even doctors will not mask if you ask them to. This is the world we live in because of Biden and Walensky. She said masks were the “Scarlet Letter” of the pandemic. This is very irresponsible. Now healthy people are getting sick. As bad off as I am, some people are physically worse than me. All of the senior living and retirement communities and all communities have dropped masking requirements, and the emergency declaration ends in a few weeks. Almost everybody should wear a mask. I worry about the seniors in the community.

PS: You note that since taking office, Biden’s pandemic response has essentially been the same as Trump’s. Why do you think the CDC and the government have overseen the abandonment of mitigation measures?

J: Everything is for big business. They don’t want people to get better. Everything is a pharmaceutical commercial on TV. The advertising industry is normalizing being sick. They want you to take medicine.

Now that there are Paxlovid commercials on TV, it is being normalized. At first, all the COVID tests were free in the first part of the pandemic, they mailed us tests and masks and even sent us stimulus checks. Now nothing is free in health care, it is all for profit. It is not being a conspiracy theorist to see the eugenicist ideologies that are being pushed. The elderly, autoimmune, disabled and the poor who don’t have equal access are being pushed out of society.

The biggest wake-up call to the general public should be from Davos when the hashtags #DavosSafe and #Davos were trending for weeks because the billionaires took every precaution possible from giant HEPA filters in the rooms, Far UVC lights, windows open, plenty of masking as well as advanced COVID tests that would deactivate your entrance badge if you tested positive. The leaders at Davos know COVID-19 is airborne and took all the precautions for themselves, but there are now zero mitigations for the general public.

I’m hoping enough people will wake up and realize we are being treated like cattle. The rich do not care what happens to the middle class and the poor, who will be disabled and die. The current reality seems like we are living in a dystopian Orwell novel that is stranger and more disturbing than fiction.