Some will see irony in the president who tried to dismiss the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic as nothing more than the flu is now a “hot spot” who may have helped spread the disease throughout the leadership of this nation.
Those who have now tested positive for the virus, besides Trump and First Lady Melania, include presidential advisors Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien, Republican Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and University of Notre Dame president John L. Jenkins.
With Trump now hospitalized at the Water Reed National Military Health Center, he is less likely to infect more, but the circle who met with him and the other infectees over the past week are numerous and, while testing negative after we learned he was infective, could come down with the disease over the next week or so. They must be monitored, including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill.
“The president remains fatigued but in good spirits,” says White House Physician Sean P. Conley, who also gave Trump an eight-gram “polyclonal antibody cocktail,” an experimental drug developed by one of the pharmaceutical companies working on an antivirus vaccine.
Dr. Conley says Trump is also taking zinc, vitamin D, melatonin, aspirin, and famotidine, a generic heartburn medicine based on Claritin.
Trump is considered a high-risk patient. At age 74 and a weight of 244 pounds, he is considered medically obese. He takes a statin to fight high cholesterol and aspiring to help prevent heart attacks. His symptoms, aides admitted late Friday, worsened during the day: fever, fatigue, nasal congestion, and a cough.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 64.7 percent of those of his age and underlying health conditions require hospitalization and about a third of those infected dies.
“He is 74, he’s hefty and he’s male, and those three things together put him in a higher-risk group for a severe infection,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, told The New York Times: “Although he is being watched meticulously and may well do fine for a few days, he is not out of the woods, because people can crash after that period of time. This is a very sneaky virus.”
As his condition worsened on Friday, he scrapped a planned telephone call with governors. Vice President Mike Pence handled it.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, considered the government’s top infectious disease expert, said the virus can take people away from work “for extended periods of time” and scientists have found “a disturbing number of individuals who have inflammation of the heart” in patients who were considered recovered.
“These are the kinds of things that tell us we must be humble, and that we do not completely understand the nature of this illness,” Dr. Fauci said.
“It’s really important to say there is no way to predict what any one individual patient will experience,” says Michael T. Osterholm, an epidemiologist who directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We can say generally, for example, older males have a twofold risk of life-threatening disease or dying over others, and obesity adds more.”
Trump, the doctor says, may have been exposed to a greater concentration of the virus because he refused to wear a mask. If so, that raised the risk for a more serious infection.
“My big fear is that he probably had a greater exposure,” one such expert, Dr. David A. Nace, a geriatrician and director of medical affairs at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s network of 35 nursing facilities, told the Times. “Right now he’s doing fine, but we’re early in this and we really have to watch him in the next two weeks.”
Mr. Trump’s true condition, though, may remain a mystery. The president has never been forthcoming about his health — apart from boasting that he is in excellent physical condition — and has never released complete medical records like presidents before him. In recent years, he has faced increasing questions on the subject.
Friday morning, for example, the official White House statement said the president would “convalesce at the White House.” A few hours later, he transported by helicopter to Walter Reed. If he develops shortness of breath, he could be put on a respirator and will require aggressive treatment, says Dr. Amesh Adajia, infectious disease expert at John Hopkins Center for Health Security.
One sign that such treatment may be needed with the use of the “antibody cocktail” often known as “a viral load,” given to the president. It is experimental and not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for general use, but White House doctors asked Regeneron, the biotech company that developed the drug, for permission to try it.
In a short video sent out on Twitter just before Trump left the White House and Marine One flew him to Walter Reed, Trump looked haggard and spoke carefully as he thanked those for his support.
We hope he recovers.
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