LIFE IN TIME OF COVID-19
By RICHARD STERNBERG • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
I have been trying to keep up with the fire hose of information that is being produced about President Trump’s case of COVID-19. On top of that, consider the NFL’s “crisis” with the Tennessee Titans Open – how dare anyone refer to that as a crisis? – and the latest press conference from Governor Cuomo, which was only an hour ago as I write this.
Diligently trying to keep up with all this information effectively has been impossible. But this is what I can ascertain at this point about the president.
- One – In my opinion, Trump is moderately sick; it can still go either way at this point, but he will probably recover with some sequelae of indeterminate duration, and he has no problem putting others at risk unnecessarily and deceiving the United States citizenry.
- Two-Trump’s personal physician, Cmdr. Sean Conley, D.O., USN, is below the president in the military chain of command and pretty much has to do and say whatever the president tells him to (or resign his commission immediately, which would have its own public ramifications for the country). If the president were to order him to proceed with a certain course of treatment or to make up fallacious or misleading statements, he has no other freedom to do otherwise. Physicians should always be free to remove themselves from a case where they feel patients’ demands are incompatible with proper medical care. Dr. Conley does not tell a lie convincingly or well. In this case, that may be a good thing.
- Three – The ride around Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday was not only dangerous to those ordered to protect and drive the president in the hermetically sealed vehicle, but showed complete disregard and disdain for those agents and for the health and welfare of them and I their families.
I certainly cannot read between the lines any better than anyone else, but several points stick out.
By Saturday it had been reported that the president’s heart, kidney and liver were normal, but no report was given about his lungs, and there was no response whatsoever when asked if chest X-rays or chest CT scan were performed.
There were contradictory reports about the use of supplemental oxygen. Subsequently it was confirmed that his oxygen saturation dropped below 95 percent, which is the lower limit of normal. It was reported that the President had shortness of breath. Any normal patient with this history and lab studies would be placed on supplementary oxygen.
Of course, they would have had the most basic of tests, a chest x-ray, upon admission.
Failure to discuss it was to me prima facie evidence that it was abnormal.
By Sunday, Dr. Conley apparently had some coaching about how to handle the press, but he said one thing that to me that was very telling. He said, “I didn’t want to give any information that would steer the course of illness in another direction and in doing so it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.” (Italics added.)
He didn’t say it wasn’t true, he said it wasn’t necessarily true. In my understanding of spin speak it means, “Yes it was true that we were trying to hide something but I am going to misdirect you.”
The two Secret Service agents in the SUV with Trump of Sunday now have to be placed on quarantine for two weeks. They and their family are now at added risk. Retired Secret Service agents have been coming out with statements decrying that PR trip and at least one current agent said that Trump wasn’t even pretending to care about other people at all, things were all about what he wanted, all the time.
Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the days of H.W, and W? Whatever faults they may have had, they were gentlemen and cared about how their decisions affected others.
To reiterate, I think that it’s more likely than not that Trump will recover, but with some sequelae. I don’t expect it to change his behavior, but the reasons for that are not germane to a pure medical column.