Lenard Lazich was forced to retire early, unprepared, because of the coronavirus. He blames Trump’s poor leadership.
DETROIT, MI—Ever since the MGM Grand Detroit opened, 21 years ago, Lenard Lazich has been its bartender. At 73, he’s among the oldest bartenders at the MGM Grand, and had no intention to retire. And then, the coronavirus came to Michigan.
“The pandemic forced me into a retirement I was not ready for,” he said. “I recognized that this virus was not just going to disappear.”
He loved his job since the first day the MGM Grand was open, Lazich said. But on his last day of work, March 6, the MGM Grand hosted a large banquet. As someone in a high-risk category, this made him nervous. In hindsight, though Michigan’s state of emergency wouldn’t begin for another four days, symptom data shows the coronavirus already was present in Michigan at the time.
But when the coronavirus got compared, in its early days, to the 1918 pandemic strain of influenza, Lazich said he was actually reassured thanks to the great strides medicine had taken over the past century. He was certain we would be prepared to contain this pandemic.
“And yet, here we are. Seven months in and 200,000 deaths later,” he said. “This pandemic has made it clear to me that US President Donald Trump does not care about the average person.”
It was mismanagement on a national level that forced Lazich to retire from a job he loved, he said. And that unexpected retirement has impacted his life in profound ways. Before the pandemic, Lazich said he lived a modest but comfortable life, financially secure. That changed.
“I was not economically prepared for the complete loss of my source of income,” he said. “Not to mention the loss of my health care which resulted in a $1,400 a month COBRA cost while unemployed and in the middle of a US health crisis. Now I’m doing whatever I can to soften the blow.”
Lazich has moved out of his historic Corktown home, which he now rents out to get a source of income. Millions of Americans have had to make the same kinds of sacrifices during the pandemic, despite a century of evolving understanding of medicine and pandemics since 1918.
“It did not have to be this bad,” Lazich said.
“It Did Not Have to Be This Bad”
Lazich pointed out the revelation from a recent book by acclaimed journalist Bob Woodward that President Donald Trump was aware of the dangers posed by the pandemic coronavirus and intentionally downplayed those dangers for political reasons.
“He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months. He failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life and death betrayal of the American people,” Trump’s opponent Joe Biden said when visiting Michigan in September. “And how many families are missing loved ones at their dinner table tonight because of his failures. It’s beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace.”
Throughout the pandemic, Trump has been a roadblock to attempts to seriously mitigate the health and economic damage that has resulted from the coronavirus. From slowing down the flow of essential supplies into Michigan over a squabble with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to touting economic success during record waves of Michiganders like Lazich finding themselves out of work to telling Americans to drink Lysol, Trump has been an impediment to efforts to seriously engage the virus.
“Every day there’s a new Trump outburst while more Americans suffer,” Lazich said.
Lazich is voting for Joe Biden in November. Not only because of Trump’s poor leadership, but because of Biden’s strengths in addressing the coronavirus crisis.
Biden’s coronavirus strategy includes an aggressive public health plan. That plan includes the elimination of all costs associated with coronavirus treatment, the strengthening of health insurance reforms, and the introduction of a public health insurance option.
Biden has regularly argued that in order to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus the health situation around the virus must be addressed. A protracted pandemic burning across America makes economic reengagement an uncertain prospect, as seen by businesses reopening and reclosing nationwide in response to summer coronavirus spikes.