The family of an 81-year-old man, who was a supporter of Donald Trump, says their loved one contracted COVID-19 and died last week after refusing to wear a mask because the president downplayed the virus.
Stephanie Landaverde, 24, told the Boston Globe that her grandfather, Juan Ciprian, wasn’t as cautious as he should have been while out and about in Massachusetts.
Landaverde said her grandfather, who died of COVID-19 last week, was a Trump supporter and refused to wear a mask.
She told the Globe that Ciprian was the only member of her family who didn’t take their concerns seriously.
‘He was the only one that wasn’t complying. He was hearing all these conspiracy theories, and saying Trump said this or that,’ she said. ‘He didn’t believe it was a real thing.’
Ciprian, who was described as not having any ailments, started experiencing COVID-10 symptoms on September 20. He was taken to a local hospital three days later.
Ciprian died from COVID-19 on September 29, according to his family. The 81-year-old’s wife was also diagnosed with the virus and was hospitalized before being transferred to a rehabilitation home where she is still seeking treatment.
It was only a matter of time before Landaverde’s parents caught the virus. Landaverde’s grandparents live with her parents who were also hospitalized due to the virus.
Landaverde shared a message from her mother, Maria, with the Globe that reads: ‘We, all the people who have been affected by COVID-19, lost their jobs, got sick, or even died from it, deserve to be heard. My heart is with President Trump and wish him the best but the country needs him to stop playing politics and remember we are people.’
In total, seven people in Landaverde’s family were diagnosed with the virus, leading them to believe they contracted it from her grandfather.
Just a day after the family received Ciprian’s ashes, they learned that Trump also had the virus.
Landaverde said the president’s diagnosis devastated the family and ‘brought some anger into our hearts’.
Trump announced his diagnosis just days after the first presidential debate last week.
He spent three nights at the Walter Reed medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, before returning to the White House on Monday.
Trump staged a dramatic return to the White House after leaving the military hospital where he was receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19.
He immediately ignited a new controversy by declaring that despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans — and then he entered the White House without a protective mask.
‘Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,’ Trump said in a video after his return from the Walter Reed Medical Center military hospital outside Washington where he was treated for COVID-19.
‘I’m better, and maybe I’m immune – I don’t know,’ he added, flanked by American flags and with the Washington Monument in the background. ‘Get out there. Be careful.’
Trump’s message alarmed infectious disease experts and suggested the president’s own illness had not caused him to rethink his often-cavalier attitude toward the disease, which has also infected the first lady and several White House aides, including new cases revealed Monday.
Landing at the White House on Marine One, Trump gingerly climbed the South Portico steps, removed his mask and declared: ‘I feel good.’
He gave a double thumbs-up to the departing helicopter from the portico terrace, where aides had arranged American flags for the sunset occasion. He entered the White House, where aides were visible milling about the Blue Room, without wearing a face covering.
The president left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where his doctor, Navy Cmdr Sean Conley, said earlier Monday that the president remains contagious and would not be fully ‘out of the woods’ for another week but that Trump had met or exceeded standards for discharge from the hospital.
Trump is expected to continue his recovery at the White House, where the reach of the outbreak that has infected the highest levels of the US government is still being uncovered.
Still, just a month before the election and anxious to project strength, Trump tweeted before leaving the hospital: ‘Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!’ And in case anyone missed his don’t-worry message earlier, he rushed out a new video from the White House.
‘You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines,’ Trump said.
His remarks were strong, but he was taking deeper breaths than usual as he delivered them.
Trump’s nonchalant message about not fearing the virus comes as his own administration has encouraged Americans to be very careful and take precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the disease as cases continue to spike across the country.
For more than eight months, Trump’s efforts to play down the threat of the virus in hopes of propping up the economy ahead of the election have drawn bipartisan criticism.
‘We have to be realistic in this: COVID is a complete threat to the American population,’ Dr David Nace of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said of Trump’s comment.