How Trump’s deadly reelection strategy comes back to bite every 3 to 14 days

Mark Urquiza died of COVID-19 two weeks ago. His mistake, says his daughter, was to listen to the president and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

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Mark Urquiza died June 30th in Phoenix, a few weeks after contracting COVID-19 and after Gov. Doug Ducey ended Arizona’s stay-at-home order.

Family photo via Washington Post

Mark Urquiza, 65, died of COVID-19 two weeks ago, having made the mistake of listening to President Donald Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Trump and Ducey, like a lot of Republican leaders, began urging people in early May to get back to their normal lives. They said the pandemic was subsiding and sort of a hoax anyway, and Urquiza took them at their word and started going out with friends again.

Three weeks after Ducey lifted Arizona’s stay-at-home order on May 15, Urquiza began feeling ill. On June 30, he died.

In a stunning obituary in the Arizona Republic on Wednesday, Urquiza’s daughter, Kristin, put the blame right where it belongs:

Ducey, she said, “has blood on his hands.”

It never fails to amaze us how Trump, Ducey and others like them remain wedded to an approach to the pandemic — denial — that is doomed to failure as a matter of both public health and politics.

The more they try to wish the pandemic away, the more they will have blood on their hands.

And the more they try to force life back to “normal” before it is safe, the more they will lose on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Because a political strategy with a rolling shelf life of three to 14 days — the incubation period of COVID-19 — is hopeless. It is sure to come back to bite, as it already has, all summer and fall.

Pandemic in the pews

A few weeks ago, Trump demanded that houses of worship be allowed to reopen. He figured he’d get a little political mileage out of that, even if every public health expert said reopening church would be crazy stupid.

And now, right on cue, the coronavirus is surging through churches. Three to 14 days after churches began to reopen, according to a New York Times analysis, people in the pews started getting sick.

In Texas, about 50 people contracted the virus after a pastor encouraged everybody to start hugging again. In Florida, a teenage girl died last month after attending a church party.

Nobody’s about to forget this. Nice church people will still be dying on Election Day. Others will be dying, too.

Expert forecasters — scientists, not politicians — are now predicting more than 200,000 Americans will be dead from COVID-19 by Election Day.

The moral tragedy is that Trump and his craven choir of Republican governors, senators and representatives are not even trying to beat the pandemic. They have never tried.

They’re just trying to bamboozle us long enough to win an election, their efforts constantly undone by COVID-19’s politically inconvenient brief time span from infection to death.

They’re wasting their time.

When, come to think of it, was that Trump rally in Tulsa? The one that smarter Trump supporters stayed away from?

June 20, that’s when it was. Three short weeks ago.

And now, in the last week, Tulsa has seen a surge of almost 500 new cases of COVID-19.

Trump’s rally was “more than likely” a cause of the surge, Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, told Business Insider. “We just connect the dots.”

Enough Americans know better

Trump and his accomplices can snort all they want that the pandemic is 50% hooey. They can keep pushing us to get back out there, spreading the virus like kids with squirt guns. But the United States will never prevail over the pandemic until enough Americans feel safe, and enough Americans will never feel safe until they really are.

They won’t eat in restaurants again, or go to a concert or fly in a plane just because some mayor or governor says they can.

They won’t send their kids back to school until they’re convinced it’s safe, for that matter, though Trump threatened last week to cut funding to schools that don’t reopen fully in the fall.

They will follow the science and listen to experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

They will continue to size up the difference between what’s allowed and what’s safe.

Could not convince her father

Denial is a lousy way to beat a pandemic.

Kristin Urquiza told the Washington Post she tried to convince her father not to go out, but he told her Ducey wouldn’t have lifted the stay-at-home order if it were not safe.

“Despite all of the effort that I had made to try to keep my parents safe,” she said, “I couldn’t compete with the governor’s office, and I couldn’t compete with the Trump administration.”

And, as it turns out, denial is a lousy way to win an election.

The truth keeps coming back to bite.

Every three to 14 days.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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