Supporters warn that the president’s dismissive attitude could make the pandemic worse.
On Twitter, supporters of the president praised his strength and hailed his message, calling him “Our beloved president” and “BEST PRESIDENT EVER!”
But for scores of families who have lost loved ones to the disease, as well as first responders and other advocates, the response has been very different. Many of them criticized the president’s contemptuous sentiment and warned that it could make matters worse.
Brian Walter, a New York City transportation worker who lost his father to the virus, told ABC News in a statement that Trump’s advice to people not to fear the coronavirus “hurts.”
“It worries me about all families who will still suffer the loss of a loved one because our president refuses to take this pandemic seriously,” he said.
Walter is a member of the survivors’ network and defense group COVID Survivors for Change, which has documented the toll the pandemic has left on millions of Americans. On Sunday, the group installed 20,000 empty chairs on the lawn in front of the White House to symbolize the nation’s COVID-19 deaths.
Chris Kocher, executive director of COVID Survivors for Change, said in a statement that he was taken aback by Trump’s tweet, as he had the best health care and treatment in the world, a luxury that most coronavirus patients have. He has not.
Trump’s doctors told the press it was administered several drugs including a cocktail of antibodies, remdesivir and steroids.
“For long haulers who live with the symptoms of COVID-19 for months on end, this virus is terrifying. Trump doesn’t care and still doesn’t understand what families are going through,” Kocher said in a statement.
Susan R. Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, urged Americans to continue to heed the warnings of doctors and health experts.
“We know vigilance is the best response to the COVID-19 pandemic because this virus does not feed on fear, it feeds on complacency,” he said in a statement.
Liza Billings, a New York City nurse who lost her brother to the pandemic and is also a member of COVID Survivors for Change, criticized Trump’s hold on the virus.
“I’ve seen medical teams fight like hell to save patients from COVID-19. All too often, this deadly and ferocious virus has won,” he said in a statement to ABC News.
Billings called Trump’s message of no fear of the virus a “slap in the face to all who have lost a loved one to COVID-19, as well as all of us who have put our lives on the line to save others. “.
“It’s a callous and dangerous observation that will do nothing to stop this horrible pandemic and could even make the situation worse,” he said.
Among the most prominent voices being uttered was Kristin Urquiza, the Arizona woman who appeared at the Democratic National Convention and blamed Trump’s rhetoric for her father’s coronavirus-related death. Urquiza quoted-tweeted the president’s message saying, “At this point, the only thing we should be afraid of is you.”
In a statement to ABC News sent Monday night later, Urquiza said Trump is worried about appearing strong instead of focusing on helping the nation overcome the crisis.
“It’s clearer than ever that Trump doesn’t care about anyone but himself,” he said.
While not referring directly to the president’s tweet, former Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd in Miami that the president should listen to scientists and medical experts on the dangers of the pandemic.
He noted that since the president was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday, more than 100,000 Americans have contracted the virus.
“I hope the president’s recovery is quick and successful,” Biden said, “but our nation’s COVID crisis is far from over.”
Victoria Moll-Ramirez and Molly Nagle of ABC News contributed to this report.