“I hope u get it and soon pass away,” a reader emailed me in response to my March 14 column highlighting President Trump’s chaotic and confusing contribution to the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.

That reader may receive his wish.

I fall into the category of people most likely to suffer serious illness or even death from covid-19. I am over 60 (80, to be precise) with an underlying medical condition; I have been treated for pulmonary embolism, and clots remain in my lungs.

If Trump’s approach to this deadly infectious disease proceeds in the direction it seems headed, it’s possible that my days might come to an end. (I’ll pause until the cheering dies down.)

Now, let’s go on.

Trump wants to scale back the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to spur the economy and get church pews packed with Easter Sunday worshipers.

This business about pushing for social distancing and closing down workplaces and stores and restaurants is bad all around, claims Trump. “You can destroy a country this way, by closing it down,” he said in a program broadcast from the Rose Garden on Tuesday by his administration’s unofficial department of propaganda, Fox News.

Trump wants to lift some of the public health guidelines that he, Vice President Pence and top federal health officials only a week ago touted as the difference between life and death.

It matters not that other public officials and experts, such as Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, are warning that the country cannot return to a thriving economy while the pandemic rages.

Gottlieb’s vision of the virus’s toll, if left unchecked, focuses attention directly on the zone in which I dwell. He wrote in a Twitter thread this week that “older people will die in historic numbers, middle-aged folks doomed to prolonged ICU stays to fight for their lives, hospitals will be overwhelmed.”

Trump, however, is not alone in his anti-isolation thinking. A lot of conservative economists and Trump-adoring politicians stand in his corner, among them Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

During an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Patrick (R) said that, as a senior citizen, he would take a chance on his survival in exchange for keeping the America he loves for his children and six grandchildren. His message to America: “Let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living.

Patrick explained, “I want to live smart and see through this, but I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed.”

“We can’t lose our whole country, we’re having an economic collapse,” he said.

So, his answer to protecting the economy is a return to the world of commerce in full force: Get back into the stores, shop till you drop, eat out and eat up, travel up a storm.

With seven grandchildren of my own, I know what it means to have family.

Like Patrick, I want to keep America for my children, grandchildren, wife, siblings and all those whose lives are closely linked to my own. And I pray for the survival of people here and abroad living in jeopardy of this pandemic.

That said, I cannot think of anything more irresponsible and dangerous to my family and the country than to put myself in the position of contributing to the uncontrolled spread of covid-19.

How is the country supposed to speed back to normalcy if we are out and about catching and spreading the disease, thus burdening hospitals, doctors, nurses and the health-care system?

Coronavirus infections don’t result in sudden death. Victims can linger for periods in need of intensive care, drawing down precious medical resources while imperiling their caregivers — whether loved ones or health professionals — with infection.

Imagine people hospitalized and sometimes dying because some of us itched “to get back to work” and “get back to living.” Both are good ways to prolong the life of the virus. How in the world does that get us to a stable economy?

The best thing I can do for my grandchildren, family, friends and community — and this goes for Patrick as well — is avoid becoming a burden on either them or the health-care providers we all need. And that means stay in place, keep my hands clean and to myself, and encourage others to do the same.

That, Lt. Gov. Patrick, is called performing a public service.

As for my reader’s fervent wish for me to “soon pass away,” I can only answer that I know neither the day nor the hour that the Good Lord will choose to call me home. But until then, this octogenarian is going to keep pounding away as long as he can reach a keyboard.

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