Lessons the American people can learn from President Trump's illness

Sunday - 04/10/2020 07:21
USA Today
USA Today
The hope, Mathew said, is the news of the president's illness will help people see that their actions can have a ripple effect.

While the nation watches and waits to see how President Donald Trump will fare as he's treated for COVID-19, doctors say there are lessons the American people can learn from his infection in the midst of a pandemic that has so far killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected 7.3 million. 

Key among them is that no one is invulnerable to a disease that doesn't pick and choose whom to infect based on political affiliation or status.

"I remain eternally optimistic that this will be the week that more Americans recognize the severity of this epidemic and just how many more Americans might die this fall and winter, and begin to take greater responsibility for it," said Dr. Theodore J. Iwashyna, director of health services research and an associate professor of internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Michigan.

"I hope that some will do so and I hope that our leaders will use this as an opportunity to remember that this is about a virus whose transmission can be reduced, not as an excuse to score political points." 

Trump announced early Friday morning that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

Nearly a dozen others who were in close contact with the president or other White House officials also have tested positive for the virus, leaving the nation reeling just a month from Election Day. 

Dr. Trini Mathew, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist for Beaumont Health, said the Trumps are getting the highest-quality medical care, and it's not time to panic. But, she said, it is time for ordinary people to take a hard look at their own lives, and do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

"This news just shows that the virus can infect anyone, and therefore we need to be serious," she said. "It's not just protecting ourselves as an individual, but it is also protecting others around us. This is what this news headline is showing us, right? One person around the POTUS being positive, and then potentially infecting others.

 

Dr. Trini Mathew,
Dr. Trini Mathew,

"That's exactly what we know with infections and viruses. ... They get transmitted from one person to another person. And I hope that this is a good reminder for all of us to think about it. This pandemic is not over. This is a serious disease."

Wear a mask, social distance 

The president is being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and his physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Saturday that he is "doing very well."

Trump, he said, had a mild cough, congestion and fatigue Thursday, "all of which are resolving."

"He is receiving outstanding multidisciplinary care. ... We are monitoring him very closely," Conley said.

Mathew urged people who may have been skeptical about wearing a mask in the past to start wearing one now. 

"Frequently, I do see people not wearing the mask or not wearing the mask correctly," she said. "It can inadvertently slip down the nose and then only protect the mouth. So I think those who are wearing masks also need to be cognizant of that, how to wear the mask correctly, and also to be careful where our hands are when we are having the mask on. We may have contaminated our hands and touched contaminated objects around us, and then touch our masks.


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