/ Letters / Trump endangers us all

Trump endangers us all

May 01, 2020

To the Editor:

In “The Descent of Man,” Charles Darwin wrote: “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” 

One striking characteristic of President Trump is his unshakeable confidence; he’s often wrong, but never in doubt.  

On March 18, Fox News aired an interview touting the anti- malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19. The following day, Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine could be a “game changer” and, could be a “very powerful” cure for COVID-19. When Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked if there was evidence to suggest it could be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19, he replied: “The answer is no, and the evidence you’re talking about is anecdotal evidence.” Undeterred, Trump continued to pitch the drug: “I’m probably more of a fan of that than, maybe than anybody, but I’m a big fan.”  

On April 4, Trump said: “What do you have to lose? Take it,” and “Try it, if you’d like.” In response, Dr. James Phillips, professor of emergency medicine at George Washington Hospital said: “It’s a dangerous message for someone without a medical license to get up there and tell people to try it. You need to listen to physicians, people who understand science, before you go willy-nilly into the medicine cabinet.” On Friday, April 24, the FDA issued this warning: “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19, both can cause abnormal heart rhythms and a dangerously rapid heart rate.”  

Last week, after hearing that isopropyl alcohol, bleach and UV light could kill the COVID-19 virus on surfaces, President Trump wondered if injecting disinfectants or shining UV light into the body might be therapeutic. He said: “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

The response was swift, medical professionals and manufacturers issued warnings. Pulmonologist Dr. Vin Gupta wrote: “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous. It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.” The parent company of Lysol felt compelled to issue the following statement: “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route.)”

On Feb. 24, President Trump made clear his primary concern during a pandemic was the U.S. stock market, he tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”  

On Feb. 25, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters, “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this could be bad, schools should consider dividing students into smaller groups or close and use internet-based teleschooling. For adults, businesses can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options. Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing,” 

In response, on Feb. 26, President Trump said: “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

Additionally, despite being briefed by medical professionals, President Trump remains unaware of the limitations of antibiotics, which are  antibacterial agents. They are not used to treat viral infections like COVID-19. He demonstrated that ignorance when, he spoke of the pandemic,  “This is a very brilliant enemy. You know, it’s a brilliant enemy. They develop drugs like the antibiotics. You see it. Antibiotics used to solve every problem. Now one of the biggest problems the world has is the germ has gotten so brilliant that the antibiotic can’t keep up with it. And they’re constantly trying to come up with a new — people go to a hospital and they catch — they go for a heart operation — that’s no problem, but they end up dying from — from problems. You know the problems I’m talking about. There’s a whole genius to it.” and   “We’re fighting — not only is it hidden, but it’s very smart. OK? It’s invisible and it’s hidden, but it’s — it’s very smart.”

Darwin’s observation is as relevant today, as it was in 1871. Trump’s incognizance, hubris and self-interest delayed our county’s response to the pandemic, prevented early social distancing and  acquisition of tests and PPE. In a desperate gamble to maintain stock prices — and thus improve his odds of re-election — he recklessly disregarded   epidemiologists’ advice,  and put us at greater risk than need be. That decision has, cost some of us, our lives.

President Trump is a stunning reminder that elections have consequences. We desperately need competent, honest leadership to guide our country forward, please vote accordingly.

Rick Plonsky




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