Every time I watch the president pontificate about how fantastic everything is being handled with this latest global pandemic, COVID-19, I feel less reassured, more anxious. From my point of view, nothing seems to be going well at all.
You see, I’m a family doctor. I’m on the front lines of this pandemic. People are starting to call in and show up at the office with symptoms. I don’t have any tests. There are no tests. I have swabs. I can use a culture medium that I already have for other disease testing, swab the nose with one swab, swab the throat with another, then ask the health department if they will do the test. They can say no. I don’t get to decide.
I don’t have near enough gowns or masks.
I watched the president’s press conference during which he wore a blue hat with “USA” on it and talked about how everyone was working together to combat this illness and keep Americans safe. OK, that’s nice, my anxiety levels are smoothing out a little. He went on to congratulate the different companies that have stepped forward to help with testing, supplies and provide places to perform the tests. Hmm, a little self-promoting, or maybe just some general ass-kissing to the wealthy business leaders in the room, but fair enough.
He closed the press conference with questions from the press, which, to be honest, surprised me since he rarely does well with pressure from the press.
“I had my temperature taken coming into the room . . . I also took the test last night. And I decided I should, based on the press conference last night,” Trump said.
He said he didn’t know the results yet.
That’s where I lost it. Protocol is that when you are being tested, you isolate yourself until the results are back and prove that you do not have Covid-19. If that test had been positive (it reportedly wasn’t) he was in a room full of the best and brightest, leaders in their fields, leaders of the government, the press, doctors and scientists working diligently to combat a novel virus that has, by some estimates, a 3 percent death rate. Of course, this number becomes greater in those who are older with conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and immune suppression, where mortality rates may be closer to 18 percent.
Much like Schroedinger’s cat, until that test came back, Trump was both healthy and deadly. He did not appear to take any precautions, such as wearing a mask to prevent transmission. Unlike wearing a mask when you are well to prevent illness, it is recommended to wear a mask when you are ill to prevent others from becoming infected.
At the very least, Donald Trump should have been wearing a mask during that press conference. If he were to be a good example to the American people during this crisis, he should have isolated until the test results showed that he clearly does not have COVID-19. The White House doctor announced on Saturday that Trump had tested negative.
Friends, politics aside, please use every precaution to avoid getting sick, and then if you are sick, passing it to someone else. If your doctor has tested you for COVID-19 and you do not know the results, you must isolate. Hopefully, testing will become more widespread in the coming days as test kits are released. I am anxious to have this at my fingertips. I have very little else to help with the oncoming illness. I can only implore my fellow Americans to heed the warnings coming from China and Italy, where healthcare systems have been overwhelmed. Wash your hands, avoid unnecessary travel, and unlike Trump, isolate.