The unexpected revelation on Thursday that Maxine Waters‘ sister had not only contracted the coronavirus but was “dying” from it was met with heartless derision and ridicule led by a pair of Republican operatives who mocked the personal protective equipment (PPE) she was wearing. The Congresswoman from California made the announcement while she was debating the $484 billion coronavirus relief package that was passed in the Senate on Tuesday.
“I not only rise in support of this legislation – this the enhancement act – I also would like to rise in support of what we’re doing for the healthcare enhancement act in this bill,” Waters said. “And I’m gonna take a moment to dedicate this legislation to my dear sister who is dying in a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, right now, infected by the coronavirus.”
Messages of support for Waters and her family instantly flooded social media. But one group of Republicans on social media took a decidedly different tack in reacting to Waters’ announcement — they tried to shame her.
In particular, a Twitter account accredited to a person named Mike Hahn, who is simply identified as “Social Media for #Team Trump,” prioritized Waters face mask over the very real prospect of yet another American dying from the global public health crisis. That, in turn, prompted Steve Guest, who, ironically, is the rapid response director for the GOP, to make fun of Waters’ gloves.
Under each of those separate tweets was a thread of depraved negativity that ignored the very real truth that Waters’ sister was among nearly 900,000 individual cases of the coronavirus that has ravaged the United States as well as the world. Never mind the fact that Waters lowered her mask so she wouldn’t muffle her speech as she and her colleagues in the House practiced social distancing as a preventative measure — like those disinfectant wipes that are also in the above photo.
During that same session Thursday, at least two Republican Congressmen could be seen not wearing any PPE (one sneezed) despite official guidance encouraging otherwise — like Waters.
Perhaps even more egregious than mocking Waters during her moment of candor on the House floor was the fact that it ignored that the Congresswoman’s sister was among the growing number of African Americans who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus for a variety of reasons that have more to do with the country’s systemic racism than they do with health.
Notwithstanding, the response from the Republican operatives and their social media followers came at a time when the debate over PPE was reaching a fever pitch as everybody from healthcare workers on the front line of the war against the coronavirus to everyday citizens were trying — many times in vain — to get their hands on masks and gloves and other personal protective equipment. It was also lost on them how Waters wore her mask and gloves while President Donald Trump and his so-called coronavirus task force have yet to be seen in public donning any PPE despite their guidance that recommends the opposite.
This display of disregard for the life of Waters’ sister appeared to be a byproduct of the overall cavalier response Republicans have had to the coronavirus for months now including their eagerness to “re-open” states’ businesses despite health officials’ warnings of a second wave of COVID-19 colliding with the flu in the Fall.