Debate attendee whose father died of COVID-19 speaks on possible exposure from Trump

Late last night, we learned that the President of the United States has tested positive for COVID-19. Where and when he contracted it is unknown, and with how many places he's been in the past few days and how many people he's come into contact with, it's not likely we'll ever find out.

While we await updates on the president's health and hope for the best, people who have potentially been exposed by Trump and others in his circle are isolating and getting tested. The contact tracing in this scenario is mind-blowingly complicated, but one person who has recently been in a room with the president is speaking out.

Kristin Urquiza was one of Joe Biden's guests a the presidential debate. She lost her father, who was a Trump supporter, to COVID-19 this summer. Her father's obituary went viral for calling out the politicians who downplayed the virus and showed poor leadership in trying to mitigate it:

"Mark, like so many others, should not have died from COVID-19. His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk."

Urquiza has shared a statement about being possibly exposed to the virus from the president as she sat in the front row of the debate.


"The verdict was already in that Trump's behavior at Tuesday's debate showed his complete disregard for our democratic process and voters' right to hear directly from our Presidential candidates. But as news spreads that Trump, Melania, Hope Hicks, and probably many more of Trump's inner circle are COVID-positive, another thing becomes clear: Trump has no regard for human life.

I was invited by Vice President Biden to the debate to represent my dad, who died of COVID after AZ Gov. Doug Ducey, Trump's willing partner-in-crime, lifted the state's shelter-in-place order even as COVID rates were skyrocketing, and announced on television that it was safe to return to normal life if you were free of pre-existing conditions.

So in a way, it was not surprising to learn that I've now been exposed to COVID by The Donald himself as I sat about 15 feet away from him, in the very first row of the debate hall, while he yelled and mocked VP Biden for wearing masks.

Every attendee, myself included, was only allowed into the debate hall after we tested COVID-negative. But given the limitations of rapid testing and Cleveland's own COVID rules, everyone in that hall should have been wearing masks. And though every one of Biden's guests managed to do this, Trump's guests were shockingly barefaced.

Vice President BIden and his guests took every precaution to ensure the safety of all those inside the debate hall. And yet again, Donald Trump's contemptuous disregard for science and the value of human lives has jeopardized the lives of Congress, Secret Service agents, members of the media, and janitors to a deadly virus that has killed 205,000 Americans to date, with another thousand dying each day that Donald Trump refuses to take leadership and protect Americans from this deadly virus. Irresponsible is an understatement; this is criminal.

How many people must die before we deliver what the American people deserve: a coordinated data-driven, national response to this pandemic. How much more must COVID survivors, COVID families, and all others marked by COVID suffer before our losses are acknowledged and recognized.

I am terrified. I know the darkest result of COVID: an undignified and lonesome death. Something I would not wish upon my worst enemy, present company included. I am working to get a test as soon as possible and will quarantine until I am certain that I am not putting others at risk.

This frightening development will not stop the Week of Mourning from taking place. We will honor the survivors and encourage all those who have lost loved ones and friends to join us in daily virtual vigils at 12:00 noon Eastern Time every day from October 4 to 11. Please visit www.weekofmourning.com to learn more and join me."

The Week of Mourning will include a National Day of Remembrance on October 4, organized by COVID Survivors for Change as a way to honor those our nation has lost to the novel coronavirus.

No one should have to lose a loved one to this virus. We know that masks and social distancing and handwashing can greatly limit the spread of COVID-19. We know that the U.S. has far more deaths from this virus than it should based on our population. It's tragic that the president has contracted it, and maddening that it might be due to his flagrant flouting of mitigation measures.

Hopefully, this unfortunate development will help more Americans understand the serious importance of following public health guidelines and doing what we can to limit the spread and get this pandemic under control.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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