White House Christmas display honors essential workers Trump abandoned

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The holiday decor features tributes to essential workers despite Donald Trump's efforts to undermine them throughout the pandemic.

This year's White House Christmas display features a touching nod to essential workers — one that sharply contrasts with Donald Trump's repeated efforts to undermine their safety and security throughout the preceding year.

According to a Monday CNN report, Melania Trump's holiday decorations showcase essential workers during the pandemic.

"Highlights of this year's display — coming during a global pandemic — include a tribute to essential workers in the Red Room, including a light-up ceramic post office, and a tree with ornaments celebrating frontline workers, including a trash truck, scientist, caregiver, lab coat and nurse hat," reported the outlet.

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The office of the first lady offered up glowing words in praise of essential workers to explain the purpose of the decor.

"We salute America's everyday heroes who serve as first responders and frontline workers," her office told CNN. "Handmade ornaments highlight the many professionals and volunteers who serve their communities with a spirit of generosity."

Despite the White House's ornaments to honor essential workers, their treatment at the hands of the White House occupant — during a pandemic that has killed 267,000 Americans to date — has appalled many.

From the day he took office, Trump has treated the lives of essential workers as though they were expendable.

According to an NPR report, the Trump administration as early as 2017 halted any work on federal regulations that would have protected health care workers facing an airborne infectious disease pandemic.

"If that rule had gone into effect, then every hospital, every nursing home would essentially have to have a plan where they made sure they had enough respirators and they were prepared for this sort of pandemic," David Michaels, who formerly helmed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, told the outlet.

NPR reported that there are still no federal regulations protecting health care workers in the event of an airborne pandemic. In September, National Nurses United, one of the largest unions of nurses in the country, reported that more than 1,700 health care workers had died from COVID-19.

Throughout the 2020 pandemic, Trump also repeatedly maligned scientists and flouted guidelines for pandemic safety.

In March, he falsely accused health care workers of hoarding ventilators. In late October, he accused them of profiteering off of COVID-19 deaths, overdiagnosing the virus for financial gain.

When Trump contracted the virus himself and was hospitalized in early October at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he thought nothing of endangering the lives of Secret Service agents by taking an unnecessary joyride through the streets of Washington D.C. to wave at his supporters.

The move was panned by Walter Reed attending physician Dr. James Phillips as "political theater."

And several White House housecleaning staff who were exposed to the disease became infected with the virus during the White House outbreak. They were under strict orders to keep their diagnoses to themselves.

Many of the White House residence team members are Black and Latinx, with a significant number over the age of 65, all populations at a higher risk of experiencing illness with the virus.

Trump has endangered other essential workers in 2020 as well.

In the spring, the Trump administration declared farm workers, many of them undocumented, to be "essential" and exempt from stay-at-home orders — and then in November, moved to freeze the wages of any non-citizen farm worker until 2023.

In August, Trump declared teachers to be "essential workers" in a bald effort to exert pressure on schools to reopen despite concerns about student and staff safety.

Meanwhile, Trump's OSHA has been largely missing in action, failing to protect workers and citing only three businesses for pandemic-related safety violations — throughout the entire course of the pandemic.

And, in a move widely slammed by unions across the country, Trump signed an executive order in April ordering meatpacking plants to stay open despite employees being ravaged by COVID-19. At the time, he cited Tyson Foods specifically as one company his executive order was meant to protect from "liability problems."

This decision to protect corporate interests directly paved the way for continued abuses of employees by companies like Tyson Foods, whose workers were endangered during the pandemic by negligent safety practices.

A recent lawsuit against the company alleges that in the aftermath of Trump's executive order, management at one Iowa plant took bets on how many employees would contract coronavirus.

And, despite the White House's festive display of a tiny light-up post office, Trump has consistently vilified the post office throughout 2020.

In a Sunday interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, he continued his baseless and repeatedly debunked claims that the election was stolen from him through a massive scheme involving millions of mail-in ballots. He specifically accused postal workers of being in on the plot.

"There are many mailmen that are in big trouble for selling ballots, getting rid of ballots," he said without evidence.

Trump's treatment of essential workers during the pandemic was so widely criticized by labor unions that the Service Employees International Union even invested $150 million in defeating him in the election.

"Our grief turned into righteous indignation about how our government and corporations were failing the vast majority of essential workers," the organization's president, Mary Kay Henry, told BuzzFeed News. "There was this irony to the idea that these workers were being held up as heroes and applauded every night and many of them don’t have the healthcare they need to look after themselves or paid two weeks of sick leave as a condition of work."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.