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'He makes it into a joke': For Philly COVID-19 patients, Trump's cavalier attitude stings

By Aubrey Whelan, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

That's partly because they fear contracting the virus - but also due to lingering distrust of the medical system as a whole, especially among communities of color.

"The minority population in America have been conditioned to not inherently or implicitly trust the U.S. healthcare system, and I'll take ownership of that for past generations," he said. "It's our fault."

And even after the virus has run its course, residents of the poorest big city in the country still face an uphill battle. At Temple's Community Care Transitions program, licensed clinical social worker Ebonee Miller-Williams screens recovering COVID patients for financial hardships including paying for housing and food, and connects them with services that can help. Those needs have increased during the pandemic, she said.

"I don't think that most of (our patients) anticipated the needs they would have following COVID," she said.

Like many recovered patients, Ortiz still feels the lingering effects of his bout with COVID-19 and urges people not to think Trump's experience has much to do with the reality of their lives.


Trump "was the most guarded human being on the planet - they're going to do everything possible to get everything he needs. But every person deserves the right to live, to be treated the best they can, for them all to make it home to their families. It just shows you how unfair things really are," he said.

"To see someone taking (the virus) so lightly, like it's no big deal, knowing that hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives - that's a huge deal."

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