STERNBERG: The President & All His Men

Life In The Time Of COVID-19

The President & All His Men

Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown. Dr. Sternberg will continue to report on medical aspects of the situation throughout week.

The good news is that the president seems to be doing OK medically.

The bad news is that people around him are being put at risk because of his refusal not only not to restrict himself in any manner but, in fact, his flaunting his ability to do anything he wants, whenever he wants.

So many of his senior staff, their staff, Secret Service, White House workers and people who were at his recent campaign events are turning up positive or exposed and they have to restrict themselves.

Also, the FDA and CDC which are both supposed to function based on science, are making decisions based on politics.

If you have friends and family members who have died, or have been very sick, you look at this very differently than if you are young and healthy. Though how anyone could consider greater than 210,000 excess deaths in the United States from COVID-19 reasonable is beyond me.

Tell me that the mortality rate is acceptable when it’s your close relative. My cousin’s father and aunt have died from it. Remember my column from last week about the 28-year old doctor who died of it.

I read the criticisms of my column posted on Monday, Oct. 5, and found myself agreeing on some points. But if the person writing remembers that over two months ago I said that, if everyone wore a mask all the time outside of the home, almost all restrictions could have been dropped by now.

I would be comfortable in that situation. Instead we are averaging over 35,000 new cases daily in the U.S. over the past two weeks.

The president is probably getting care available to no one else on Earth but himself. He is on at least two and possibly three experimental medicines. They haven’t been released for general care and no one has any idea if they have unforeseen complications when taken together.

He is still highly contagious. He has multiple risk factors. If I was his doctor, I would have put myself on the line in order to keep him in the hospital. I would have refused to do something I knew defied standards of care. Nevertheless, he is the president.

The White House medical unit can create an environment equivalent to an ICU if need be if it doesn’t already have an ICU bed standing by at all times. The care he will get there is world class.

Basically, it is equivalent to Walter Reed but without the immediate access to special testing capabilities or surgery.

If he needed something it would probably take 30 minutes. But with a medical versus a surgical diagnosis this is not much of a risk.

The biggest problem with turning the White House into a Walter Reed annex is the cost. The hospital is already set up for this but hey, it’s only money.

Try as might I can’t bring this down to just medical issues. We know some, but only a little about the president’s physical exam, disease course, and labs. He certainly looks better than someone who is very sick and I’m hopeful that there is no relapse.

It’s hard to tell if he is manifesting side effects from the steroids which is very common. Dexamethasone is associated with psychological changes including mood changes such as increased aggressiveness.

There is also dizziness and headache among other side-effects.

Bottom line; I still have no idea which direction the president’s illness is going. He is getting great care, better than you or I ever could. If there are no negative changes by Monday, he should be out of the woods. If things change, I will update.

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