*The judges will also accept, “Gotta Keep ‘Em Ventilated”

Last night on CNN they had a waaaaaayyyy-too-good-lookin’ Hollywood E.R. doctor on (I doubt he’s the foremost E.R. physician in L.A., much less America, but he’s certainly one of the more telegenic) and host Chris Cuomo asked him a pertinent question: What exactly is it like to be deep in the throes of COVID-19, in terms of respiration?

The study doc, I think his name was Evan McMurray, told the viewer to imagine putting a treadmill on the steepest angle. Then turning it up to its fastest setting. Now get on that treadmill and see what your breathing feels like after two to three minutes. And see how long you can last.

The Hollywood doc was describing a very non-Hollywood death. Not only are most patients dying in isolation (See? All those years I never got married and being warned that I’d die alone? Turns out it won’t matter in the age of the coronavirus), but it’s not the black-and-white movie put the back of your hand to your forehead and cry, “I do declare!” and then passing out. Forever.

No, it’s literally gasping for breath. And no matter what you do you cannot get enough oxygen into your lungs. It’s frantic. It’s exhausting. If you’ve ever “killed” yourself in a track workout and remember those first few seconds after you’ve crossed the finish line, you know that feeling. Now extend it onward for minutes… hours… until you go into cardiac arrest.

And that’s what happens when patients don’t have ventilators. And patients don’t have ventilators. One reason, because our federal government wasn’t prepared. Another reason, because Donald Trump doesn’t want us “to become Venezuela.” If only every politician who thinks this way, from the President on down, could die the kind of ventilator-deprived death that thousands of people all over the world have died. They might then, and only then, begin to have an appreciation of what people are going through.

Of course, Republicans never have empathy. Not until they’re actually going through the pain themselves. That’s what makes them Republicans.

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