I was probably one of the earliest COVID-19 cases in the country. I’m also six months pregnant and due this December, when COVID will be at its worst. What I know is that I now have a preexisting condition, and if you survived COVID-19, you do, too.
As COVID-19 rages and new hot spots erupt around the country, President Donald Trump is rushing to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court with someone who will help him repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has no replacement plan but would nevertheless strip health care for millions of people.
This would gut protections for people with preexisting conditions like me. My senator is Mitt Romney. He’s also the senator of my future child. On Tuesday, he said he would support Trump in filling that Supreme Court seat. Instead of protecting us, he’s abandoning us in the middle of a global pandemic.
In January I was working as a designer at a firm with ties to a packaging factory outside of Wuhan, China. Toward the end of January, its workers started coming back really sick. By the beginning of February, before Washington state even really started to see cases, the virus had spread to me here in Utah.
I’m 33 years old, an avid lifelong swimmer and hiker, and a frequent mountain biker in Park City. The virus hit me harder than any sickness I had ever experienced. I had a fever for a week. I couldn’t move to get to the bathroom or kitchen. My hands were numb. My lips and fingers became blue. I couldn’t smell or taste anything.
I recovered at the end of February and became pregnant a week later, not knowing at the time that I would be giving birth during a global health pandemic. We still don’t have a firm understanding of how COVID-19 affects a baby in utero. I don’t know what complications I might face during childbirth, and I don’t know what challenges I’ll face raising my newborn.
If my baby has side effects from COVID-19 or gets the virus, I will blame Trump and everyone who has enabled him. Romney is now one of those people. I once respected him. I thought he stood for principle over party. I thought he would do the right thing, but I was wrong.
His decision to support a vote on Trump’s high court nominee has put the more than 1.2 million Utahns with preexisting health conditions at risk, including the nearly 52,000 of us who have lived through COVID-19.
Keeping one’s health insurance is hard enough during this pandemic with so many people losing their jobs. I lost mine because of a COVID-related layoff. Now I’m an independent contractor, dependent on my husband’s health insurance. If we lose that coverage, I honestly don’t know what we will do.
In what world can Romney claim he’s a religious man, pretend to stand for morals and decency, if he knowingly takes an action that will strip so many people of their health care?
Romneycare — the health care protections he is credited for putting in place while serving as governor of Massachusetts — was used as a model for the ACA. In the past he said he wanted to “make sure that people can’t get dropped if they have a preexisting condition,” especially if “they develop a serious condition and lose their job and change jobs”. That’s literally what all of us are going through right now. He is completely flying in the face of his own convictions. How can any of us trust him now?
This is not about politics. I am trying to raise a family, and I want us to make it out of this year alive. Our senator should be a leader and help protect us, but he’s left me and my family in the lurch.
Katie Addison is an independent contractor who resides in Rose Park in Salt Lake City with her husband.