US Politics

‘Coronavirus killed my mother. I cried when Trump tested positive’

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OPINION: Fiana's mum Isabelle had a very different experience to President Trump when she contracted coronavirus. Despite working in a hospital, the healthcare worker struggled to get a test, and then died a week after her positive result.

When we first started hearing about the coronavirus my mum was visiting us in New York. She was excited to see her first grandchild, my daughter, Lua.

I had no idea that would be the last time I would see her.

My mother returned to Texas, where I grew up, and she worked as a respiratory therapist, on the frontline of the virus.

After the initial outbreak, Texas reopened very early, in May, and they had not mandated masks. My mum told me she started seeing that the hospitals were getting full.

It was around that time we decided that she shouldn’t come to visit us in New York. The risk was too high, we all thought. Instead, she worked more shifts at the hospital. We didn’t know the risk at her workplace would be even higher.

Dateline
Fiana's mum Isabelle worked as a respiratory therapist in Texas.
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On Saturday, June 27, she began feeling symptoms. Incredibly, the hospital she worked at didn’t have the capacity to test staff. After two days of searching for somewhere who would test her she finally got tested on Monday night, and it was positive.

My mum was 65, healthy and with no pre-existing conditions that would have made us more worried.

But a few days after her positive result, my mum’s situation was not improving. She messaged me saying, ‘I’m going to fight this for Princess Lua,’ my daughter.

She died two days later.

My mum lost her pulse in the ambulance and by the time she got to a medical facility, there wasn’t anything they could do.

It was so fast - one week. I didn’t get to talk to her, I didn’t get to tell her on the phone that I loved her.

My mum’s job put her life in danger. Her hospital didn’t have enough PPE. She sent me messages showing how she had to reuse her disposable masks for two weeks.

Dateline
Fiana's mum Isabelle messaged in April explaining that there wasn't enough PPE in her hospital.
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There wasn’t a mask mandate in Texas until the day before she died. Two weeks before she tested positive, she had an interaction with a visitor at the hospital, who was seeing her father, and my mum asked her to wear a mask.

The woman said, "I don’t have to wear a mask if my President doesn’t wear one."

I haven’t been able to cry much since my mum died but tears have just been coming after Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Dateline
Isabelle sent Fiana a message days after she tested positive, trying to workout how she caught COVID-19.
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People ask, “Aren’t you happy?”

No. I am heartbroken.

It has been crushing to see him get the best treatment in the world, hop on a helicopter to go to Walter Reed as a precautionary measure, then take a joy ride to greet his fans, all on our taxpayer money when he only paid $750. And after he downplayed the virus, putting our lives in danger.

Dateline
Isabelle was a devoted grandmother.
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My mum had to stay home until it was absolutely too late, my mum was scared to call an ambulance because it would be too expensive, my mum didn’t want to go to the hospital because she knew it would be worse there.

My mum likely was infected by someone who refused to wear a mask because they looked to Trump as their leader.

I want to bring her back. She was an amazing grandmother to my daughter. My daughter has been robbed of the opportunity of knowing someone who was so special and so giving and who could love her more than anything.

My mum had 30 years of life left and it was taken.

Our president should have never put us in this position.

The views in Dateline’s ‘US Election Diaries’ series do not represent the views of SBS. Over the course of the US presidential campaign, SBS Dateline will hear from different voices in a bid to understand different voting intentions. For detailed coverage of the 2020 US Election, visit SBS News’ dedicated election page.