Valley Voices: Being part of an unenviable community of COVID-19 mourners
Victor Valley Daily Press
Sunday June 7th, 2020
By Chris Bubser
More than 100,000 Americans are dead. We have just recently reached a grim marker of the pandemic’s impact on the United States. Nearly 2,000 of those deaths were on May 10, 2020. Mother’s Day.
My mother, Anne, of blessed memory, was one of them. I now join an unenviable community of families mourning the loss of — as of Saturday morning — 109,215 who have fallen victim to COVID-19.
When we knew in early March that COVID-19 was in the United States, I fretted about rushing to Pennsylvania to see my mom, who lived in a nursing home. Having worked in biotechnology my whole career, including in therapies specifically for infectious diseases, I had decades of experience to imagine how bad this could get.
I didn’t want to put her, other residents and their caregivers in greater danger by risking exposure on a cross-country flight. That hesitation cost me my opportunity to hold her hand and feel her love one last time. Her facility shut down to all visitors by March 13. Three days after she was diagnosed with the virus, my mother died.
This pandemic is causing unspeakable grief for so many. Although my mother’s dementia had made her less verbal over the past two years, she was still so full of love. And I was robbed of the chance to be with her as she passed. I was robbed of the opportunity to mourn with my siblings and my community.
This just did not have to happen. The systematic dismantling of our public health system exacerbated this crisis. More than 100,000 families have paid the price for our collective refusal to prepare for a situation we knew was not only possible but likely.
As someone who has worked with our public health system, I have not only been professionally trained to make decisions based on evidence and facts, I also understand firsthand how those decisions impact regular people.
I decided to run for Congress to represent California’s 8th Congressional District to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and go further: provide quality, affordable healthcare for everyone in our country. This includes protecting the 300,000 people in this district with pre-existing conditions (my daughter being one) and ensuring everyone has paid sick leave.
As my family and I shelter in our home in Mammoth, our campaign has created online advisory groups with healthcare professionals, educators, veterans, environmental groups, faith leaders, small business owners, community leaders and elected officials. And we are helping our people navigate the pandemic by doing check-in calls with people over age 55, and helping with shopping and picking up prescription medicines.
I continue to worry about my mom’s brave and selfless caregivers, like Angie, who suited up in personal protective equipment after their shifts to let us FaceTime with my mom one last time. Sadly, the town in which my mother lived and Angie works has the highest average daily growth rates of death. So there will be more families like mine.
To make sure the pandemic doesn’t worsen we must all protect each other. When you wear a mask you protect me. When I wear a mask I protect you. Let’s work together, so that the community of those who have lost loved ones to this pandemic doesn’t claim new members.
Whenever I asked my mother what she wanted for Mother’s Day, or her birthday or Christmas, she’d say, “Peace on Earth.” And she meant it. She really wanted equality and justice for everyone, and now I will do everything I can to fulfill my mother’s fondest wish.
Chris Bubser, a resident of Mammoth, is running for U.S. Congress California’s 8th District. She is a health care expert and one of three surviving children of her mother who died on Mother’s Day of COVID-19.