Tom Dempsey, the placekicker born without toes on his right foot or fingers on his right hand turned his affliction into a holder of record-length field goals for the New Orleans Saints died Saturday at age 73 of complications of the coronavirus at an assisted living center.
His longtime wife, Carlene, said he contracted the virus on March 25 at the Lambeth House center in New Orleans, where he was getting treatment for dementia, which he was diagnosed with in 2010.
Doctors said he suffered early onset dementia because of the numerous concusions suffered in the National Football League because, at 6 foot 2 and 255 pounds, he liked to run downfield after kickoffs to deliver hits.
With a flat-fronted kicking boot, Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal that gave the Saints a win over the Detroit Lions on Nov. 8, 1970 — setting a record at the time.
Dempsey became the latest person of fame to from in the virus. He won’t be the last. We’ve lost athletes, actors & actresses, singers, musicians and many others.
In London, British prime minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized Sunday eening after trying to deal with the virus at home for 10 days. A nervous country watched Queen Elizabeth II rally Britons and said “we will meet again.”
In America, president Donald Trump talked about his goal of getting the National Football League’s season to start on time later this year. He also promoted an anti-malaria drug as an unproven treatment of the coronavirus. Critics called his actions “a striking example of his brazen willingness to distort and outright defy expert opinion and scientific evidence when it does not suit his agenda.”
Doctors say the drug, hydroxychloroquine, carries “serious risks” and too often can cause a heart arrhythmia that leads to cardiac arrest.”
“There are side effects to hydroxychloroquine,” says Dr. Megan L. Ranney, an emergency room physician in Rhode Island in an interview with The New York Times Sunday evening. “It causes psychiatric symptoms, cardiac problems and a host of other bad side effects.”
Dr. Ranney said she has never seen an elected official advertise an unproven and claimed “miracle drug” in the way Trump has. No evidence, she adds, supports Trump’s claims.
“There may be a role for it for some people,” she told the Times, “but to tell Americans ‘you don’t have anything to lose,’ that’s not true. People certainly have something to lose by taking it indiscriminately.”
Even members of Trump’s coronavirus team say no clinical trials of the drug have provided any proof that it works against the virus.
An email today from the family of a St. Louis woman dying from the virus hit home. She was a longtime friend and intimate companion that I loved during my single days in the the Gateway City meto area during my time as a reporter-photographer-columnist for The Telegraph in Alton, IL, just up the Mississippi River.
She was five years younger and did not have any underlying illnesses when she starting having symptoms about a week ago, the email from her sister said.
“She got tested and went into isolation immediately,” the sister said. “Six days later, she’s gone.”
While we live, for the moment, in a virus-free county in Southwestern Virginia, the disease surrounds us. Some feel the virus exists in some residents here but have not exhibited symptoms and have not been tested.
With 9,618 infected dead in America, our leaders say the coming week or two is a time of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined. The death toll in America is expected to top 10,000 in the next day or two.
This was a disease the president called “a hoax” and who claimed, time and again, that would be “over soon.” Research by The Associated Press found that his early dismissals of the threat has led to many deaths and sent America into a pandemic-induced economic depression that will likely be worse than the Great Depression.
Trump spent January and February playing down the threat from the new virus. He derided warnings of pandemic reaching the U.S. as a hoax perpetrated by Democrats and the media. As the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global public health emergency on Jan. 30, Trump assured the American people that the virus was “very well under control” and he predicted “a very good ending.”
Two months later the pandemic continues to grow.
It took 70 days from that initial notification for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force that had outflanked America’s defenses and was poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens. That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.
Trump’s baseless assertions in those weeks, including his claim that it would all just “miraculously” go away, sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts.
It may never be known how many thousands of deaths, or millions of infections, might have been prevented with a response that was more coherent, urgent and effective. But even now, there are many indications that the administration’s handling of the crisis had potentially devastating consequences.
Even the president’s base has begun to confront this reality. In mid-March, as Trump was rebranding himself a wartime president and belatedly urging the public to help slow the spread of the virus, Republican leaders were poring over grim polling data that suggested Trump was lulling his followers into a false sense of security in the face of a lethal threat.
The poll showed that far more Republicans than Democrats were being influenced by Trump’s dismissive depictions of the virus and the comparably scornful coverage on Fox News and other conservative networks. As a result, Republicans were in distressingly large numbers refusing to change travel plans, follow “social distancing” guidelines, stock up on supplies or otherwise take the coronavirus threat seriously.
How many more must die before we have a government that cares about the people it is supposed to serve?