Short Pandemic Note #14: “Debt Before the Dead”

March 26, 2020 Off By Michael

Photo by BRUNO CERVERA on Unsplash

On the eighth day of the President’s 14-day national social distancing scheme to combat the spread of Covid-19, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, blasted Trump for his handling of the deadly outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“He puts the debt before the dead,” Cruz told The Hill, referring to Trump’s handling of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which swept through the island in 2017.

It is a reframe that Cruz frequently repeated in 2017, provoking the ire and nasty words from the President. The mainland took little note of Cruz’s claim that over 3,000 Puerto Ricans lost their lives due to the negligent neglect of the President. Now the specter looms that Trump’s mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic will cost lives in the continental borders of the country, the likes of which we have never seen before this virus hit.

During his evening news conference, strategically placed, no doubt, during the evening news hour, Trump continued to insist that it is possible and his preference to “open the country up by Easter.”

Meanwhile, the data belies the President’s preference, as the total number of Coronavirus cases in the United States grew from 32,000 this time last week, to 69,000 as I type this sentence. The death total in the US reached 1000.

Harold Michael Harvey is the author of Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. An avid public speaker, contact him at