"I just felt really disrespected, I felt like my grandfather was disrespected," the athlete said

By Georgia Slater
October 07, 2020 03:46 PM
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David Ramos/Getty; Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock

Olympic runner Kara Goucher is calling out President Donald Trump for his "tone-deaf" remarks downplaying the severity of COVID-19 as her grandfather was "suffering greatly" and later died from the coronavirus.

Just hours before her grandfather's death Tuesday night, the athlete joined Anderson Cooper on CNN's Full Circle to discuss her grandfather's battle with COVID-19 and how she felt "disrespected" by the president's recent comments.

After Trump was discharged from the hospital and returned to the White House Monday night, he released a video message on social media, in which he asserted that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) — which has killed over 210,000 people in the U.S. alone — is nothing to be concerned about, in his opinion.

"One thing that's for certain: don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it. You're gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently. And you're gonna beat it," the 74-year-old said.

The message echoed a tweet Trump posted earlier in the day, in which he wrote: "Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"

Goucher said she was packing a bag to fly to Minnesota to see her grandfather, Calvin Haworth, for "one last time" when her sister forwarded Trump's message to her.

"I just felt really disrespected, I felt like my grandfather was disrespected, I felt like all the people who have been suffering through this were disrespected," Goucher told Cooper of the president's comments, trying to hold back tears.

"It just felt so tone-deaf and just really not the right thing to say," she said. "To say ‘Don’t let it dominate your life' — this is my life. This is his life. He is literally taking his last very painful breaths."

While the Olympian said she was "glad that the president got top care," not everyone can be so lucky.

"That is not the reality for hundreds of thousands of other people and their family members," she explained. "It just felt very dismissive."

"I was just not happy about that tweet at all," she added. "[My grandfather's] life is worthy and he deserves to be respected."

Goucher told Cooper that she and Haworth had a "rich, long relationship" as he raised the athlete and her sisters after their father passed away.

The professional runner said her grandfather was "contributing to [her] life and so many other lives" through his final moments.

She expressed the importance of having compassion in times like these and to "stop making this political."

"This needs to be about compassion and caring for your fellow citizens and doing what’s right to protect other people," she said. "This is a loss that shouldn’t be happening. We should’ve been able to see him in the last seven months and we should be able to sit there and hold his hand right now and we can’t."

"Please show compassion and think of life bigger than just yourself," she concluded.

Goucher announced her grandfather's death late Tuesday night on Twitter.

"Fight on Papa," he wrote alongside a picture of her family at her wedding. "He would be overwhelmed with the support he has received from you all."

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She also thanked all the essential workers for their help in treating him in a tweet on Wednesday.

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