COVID Deaths are no longer Tragic Anomalies, but Blood on the hands of American Capitalism

I’m 24 years old, and I’m preparing to console the second of my closest friends who may lose a parent

Abby Shab
4 min readSep 18, 2020


Oliver Contreras/The New York Times

And I do not expect them to be the last...

I cannot pretend to imagine the pain of losing a mother or father. But I have been the ‘rock’ for others through this tragedy, and that has its own costs.

Both my parents have so far survived the danger of the Trump’s recklessness. However, some that I know have not been so lucky.

My best-friend, who I often call my brother, and whose mother offered me refuge when it felt like the world turned its back on me, is locked in a COVID ward and fighting for her life.

I am in pain for her. And all I can do is write about it.

News broke yesterday confirming that the HHS overstepped the authority of CDC scientists to deceive the American public for political gain.

People are dead because the president was more concerned with his ratings than the lives of beloved. Innocent. Americans.

I have had enough.

In 2018, I held my friend in Baltimore as they wept for the unexpected and fatal overdose of their father. One of the people I care most about had to identify their parent’s ice-cold and distorted body at age 21. In the moment, I told them only what I could frantically come up with:

“It wasn’t your fault”

“God, plans, mysterious ways…”

“I promise we can get through this…”

But I knew nothing of the gravity of losing a parent.

I did not understand that, no matter the circumstances, despite the mistakes they might have made, losing a parent means losing a cornerstone of your world. It is the loss of your oldest confidant — one of two shepherds that introduced you to the idea of everything else. It’s earth-shattering and cruel, and this president has let that pain spread to thousands.

The death in Baltimore wasn’t Trump’s fault. But now, another friend is watching their mother battle the odds that she can survive the virus without antibiotics.

Her insurance will not cover the quantity of prescriptions she needs to combat resulting infections, so she must try as best she can.

She is a saint. She is loving and compassionate, and she, like so many Americans, did nothing to deserve this catastrophe. Yet I can’t help but feel that her life is in danger because of preventable atrocities committed by our selfish president and underscored by this broken system.

American Capitalism has forced me, an insignificant 24-year-old, to be the shoulder to cry on for one too many people.

Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

Why was my friend’s father in Baltimore a victim of drug abuse? According to the friend, it is because their father had lost hope and the inspiration to live for others.

That doesn’t come from a lapse of judgment, or poor impulse control, or even from bad luck. It comes from the fact that this system, the richest on earth, would rather watch people die than provide the resources needed for human dignity and survival. It comes from the fact that this man thought brutal poverty would be his life forever, due to little more than the time, place, and society in which he was born.

It comes from the fact that this American empire depends on systemic exploitation and it doesn’t care if that costs real lives.

We now know that federal officials broadcasted politically-informed guidelines that ignored the advice of CDC scientists. Trump wanted fewer COVID cases to marginally smooth his re-election campaign, so he told young people to disregard caring for their communities.

He wanted to win, because that’s what proud American capitalists do. And now, there are 196,000 Americans dead because of his decisions. How could this society allow that?

Many Trump supporters were convinced to scorn their masks and discredit the danger of a global pandemic.

One of those people was married to the aunt of my bestfriend. He got COVID after shirking the risks and trusting his pride. Then his daughter got COVID. Then his son got COVID. Then his wife got COVID. And then his wife gave it to her sister — and here we are.

Say what you will. But I’m pinning this pain on him. Trump’s lies lead to this, and I’m pissed.

Trump encouraged his supporters to defy restrictions because he thought it would serve his interests. His administration replaced science with propaganda in order to defend their election chances. From the beginning, he has been more concerned with public perception than protecting the families now shattered by tragedy. And he is, in so many ways, the embodiment of capitalist white America.

I. Have. Had. Enough.

A system which incentivizes presidents, insurance companies, and the producers of vital pharmaceutical to allow citizens to die is a disgrace. Hands down.

A system which relegates the poor to such destitute conditions that they turn to drugs and abandon their families is a failed and unsustainable system.

I am fed up with America’s complacence.

This has to change.

Universal healthcare and a communal philosophy of government could prevent so much pain in this country. But its leaders and institutions would rather “win big” than preserve the sanctity of human life.

It is disgusting.

And until we evolve, the only treatment we will have for this tragedy is young people in deep over their heads, dying to console all the suffering.



Abby Shab

Radical activist of color working to thrive & imagine a better world. I hope we can grow through honest exchange & fearless reflection. Black Lives Matter