A retired Air Force veteran in Arizona who voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 has had a change of heart — and it’s personal.
Dave Dahlstrom, a self-proclaimed lifelong conservative, told ABC’s affiliate station KNXV that he is “switching my vote to [Joe] Biden in November” after losing his wife of more than 30 years to complications from COVID-19.
Dahlstrom told the Phoenix-based news station that he believes the Trump administration’s public ambivalence toward the coronavirus when it first hit the United States contributed to hardships and deaths that could have been prevented.
“Our leadership really failed the American people, and they failed my family, and they failed our friends,” he said. “I’m really bothered by all of that.”
Earlier this month, Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward released audio recordings with Trump for his book “Rage.” They revealed that the president knew in early February that the coronavirus posed a unique and deadly threat, but publicly downplayed the seriousness of it by claiming it was no more dangerous than the flu and would eventually go away.
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call with Woodward. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”
“This is deadly stuff,” he repeated.
Trump later told Woodward on March 19 why he “wanted to always play it down.”
“I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” Trump said.
According to KNXV, Dahlstrom’s wife, Cindy, 72, spent most of her career at the Department of Defense, and when she retired, she spent her free time “working at a kitchen that served homeless men and women.”
In June, Cindy flew to Denver to visit her daughter and grandchildren. Dahlstrom told the outlet that it was “really important” for his wife to visit her family, saying she “understood the risks.” “She was an exceptionally cautious woman,” he said. Four days after flying, however, Cindy tested positive for the coronavirus and was put on a ventilator. She died on July 6 — just 15 days after contracting the virus.
Dahlstrom said his wife’s only underlying condition was a lung that was scarred from a prior bout with valley fever.
“They pulled the ventilator. Two minutes later, she passed away,” Dahlstrom told KNXV. “It was just a dynamic I would never wish on anybody. It was just terrible.”
As of Tuesday, there have been over 7 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States and over 205,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Clarification: Language has been amended to reflect that Dahlstrom’s wife had previously had valley fever, not “valley flu,” which does not exist.