Surviving COVID and victims of gun violence are "the same" says "Everytown" group founder

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

A group has been formed to advocate for survivors of COVID-19 and their families. It is described as “a nationwide network of Covid-19 survivors and families affected by the virus who are coming together to share our stories and advocate for lifesaving policies.” Covid Survivors for Change alleges to be a nonpartisan lobbying group but the founder is also a founder of Everytown Survivor Network that advocates for survivors of gun violence. It’s a part of the Everytown For Gun Safety network, the gun-grabbing activists funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

The idea behind Covid Survivors for Change is that the survivors deal with the trauma brought on by being infected with the virus. The founder, Chris Kocher, made an unfortunate conflation of surviving a respiratory virus and surviving gun violence. The common denominator is surviving a traumatic event. Yes, both things cause trauma but it’s a stretch to lump them together. What about all the other medical diagnoses that bring about trauma to patients? Everytown For Gun Safety advocates for Second Amendment reforms and less freedom in gun ownership. What they advocate for, though, is to stifle law-abiding gun owners because of the actions of criminals. Gun-grabbers blame record gun sales for the rise in gun violence. A recent study shows that while gun violence is up this year and in 2020 during the pandemic, a surge in gun buying does not lead to a surge in gun violence.

Covid Survivors for Change want new government programs (taxpayer-funded) for survivors.

“There is the same thing at the core, which is people who have experienced trauma,” Kocher told Yahoo News in a recent interview. “It’s people who have been impacted by a public health crisis, who have lost a loved one and who want to be part of an effort to change.”

The changes that the group is lobbying for include paid family leave and support for millions of so-called COVID long-haulers and children who have lost a parent to COVID-19, which researchers estimate to be more than 46,000.

The change part of the equation seems nebulous, though. Other than new family leave benefits what is the change going to be? There do appear to be long-haul effects from the virus but that is within personal health care coverage. And children who lose a parent to the coronavirus fall into the category of children eligible for social security benefits for surviving children. These programs are already in place.

Anyway, Covid Survivors for Change is holding a march next Saturday, August 7. The mission includes advocating for stronger pandemic responses in the future. This, too, is an odd call to action. The country is coming out of 18 months of lockdown and mitigation mandates, some of which are making a comeback like mask mandates, and a vaccine was produced for distribution in record time, thanks to Operation Warp Speed, so I’m not sure how much stronger a pandemic response could have been. Communication from both the Trump and Biden White House could have been better, as well as the CDC, and those problems are still with us. Generally speaking, though, there is little else that could have been done. If anything, we are suffering the effects of government overreach, not of too little being done.

Mr. Kocher may describe the organization as non-partisan but that’s to be questioned. His own actions on social media show he’s a Trump critic (surprise!). He and another member of the group accused Trump of not caring about Covid survivors, even when he was infected with Covid himself. A tweet from Trump that encouraged Americans, “Don’t be afraid” seems to have set them off. They set up empty chairs across from the White House to symbolize those who died from the virus.

Brian Walter, a New York City transit worker who lost his father to the virus, told ABC News in a statement that Trump’s advice to people not to fear the coronavirus “hurts.”

“It makes me worry for all the families who will still experience the loss of a loved one because our president refuses to take this pandemic seriously,” he said.

Walter is a member of the survivor network and advocacy group COVID Survivors for Change, which has been documenting the toll the pandemic has left on millions of Americans. On Sunday, the group installed 20,000 empty chairs on the lawn across from the White House to symbolize the nation’s COVID-19 deaths.

Chris Kocher, executive director of COVID Survivors for Change, said in a statement that he was taken aback by Trump’s tweet, given that he had the best health care and treatment in the world — a luxury that most coronavirus patients don’t have.

“For the long haulers living with symptoms of COVID-19 for months on end, this virus is terrifying. Trump doesn’t care, and he still doesn’t get what families are going through,” Kocher said in a statement.

Support groups, which is what this primarily seems to be, are common with survivors of lots of experiences. This group, however, looks to be an extension of the progressive wing of the Democrat Party. The main focus is paid leave which is a policy issue, not a usual support group discussion. And, this group , at least its leader, is certainly a non-partisan kind of guy.