It should have been an idyllic dotage in coastal Florida for Gregory Zec and his wife. Instead, they are contemplating a retirement overshadowed by uncertainty and fear because of a viral outbreak that has laid low friends and family alike.
Like other seniors, the 69-year-old and his septuagenarian wife are high risk for a raging coronavirus epidemic that has killed 215,000 Americans and turned many of the elderly against President Donald Trump in a crucial election year.
"The big thing for me is the coronavirus because that is killing a lot of people and it's getting worse," said Zec, 69, who lives with his 72-year-old wife in Sarasota on Florida's west coast.
He said several of his friends and relatives had fallen sick from the virus, and some ended up in intensive care.
"Looks like by the end of the year as many people will be dead from this as from World War II," Zec told AFP, citing projections that more the US death toll could surpass 300,000 in the coming months.
More than 15,300 people have died of the disease so far in Florida. "I don't want to be one and I don't want my wife to be one," said Zec. "The magnitude is big."
Zec worked for 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry and did not want to say who he voted for in 2016. But he said there was no way he would be voting for Trump on November 3.
The way the president dealt with his own infection, stage-managing his return from hospital to the White House in a helicopter, did not help sway his opinion either.
"When he got off the helicopter, I thought it was pathetic," said Zec. "He had a lot of spray tan on, makeup which I don't like to see in a man, and standing on a balcony remind me of Benito Mussolini," the Italian fascist leader who allied with Nazi Germany in World War II.