Doctors say Trump's cheery new message on COVID is going to get people killed


'This is a total abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration,' said one public health expert.

Doctors have expressed alarm over the misleading messages that Donald Trump is sending after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday. 

Upon leaving the hospital still infected with the coronavirus, Trump posted a video on his Twitter account in which he said of the virus, "Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it."

"We're going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that," he said. "I know there's a risk, there's a danger, but that's OK." 

Concerned doctors and medical experts across the nation responded to Trump's seemingly cavalier attitude and rosy assessment about a virus that's killed more than 210,000 people in the United States and infected over 7.4 million as of Tuesday.

Dr. Sadiya Khan, a professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told the Associated Press: "It's an unconscionable message. I would go so far as to say that it may precipitate or worsen spread." 

Dr. David Nace, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said: "We have to be realistic in this: COVID is a complete threat to the American population." He noted, "Most of the people aren't so lucky as the president," who has access to medical services and treatments most Americans do not.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Vanderbilt University Medical School's Division of Infectious Diseases, said that Trump's message could encourage his followers to ignore basic recommendations to keep themselves safe: "It will lead to more casual behavior, which will lead to more transmission of the virus, which will lead to more illness, and more illness will lead to more deaths."

"This is a total abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration," said Dr. Joshua Barocas, a doctor of infectious diseases and professor of medicine at Boston University.

"Take off your mask, be defiant, we can beat this virus, it's all hype," Dr. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine said during an appearance on CNN, dismissing Trump's messaging. "Many people find him very compelling and will do and follow all of his actions, and his statements and his tweets, and he put out the message that let this thing rip, don't let it interfere with your daily activities. Don't be fearful, let's have 400,000 Americans dead." 

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine, told CNN: "It is inexplainable that the President of the United States, who is actively shedding virus in millions of particles, would walk into that building with an enormous number of staff, unmasked. It is really hard to understand how no one told him not to do that. There doesn't seem to be anyone in charge of his care other than the President of the United States, other than the patient."

Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, told the American Independent Foundation that the example Trump is setting is dangerous.

"In leaving, he is claiming victory ... continuing to downplay it, telling people don't be afraid, we have to live our lives ... and we're going to have more people die because of it," said Davidson. 

Doctors were equally alarmed when Trump left his hospital room, before he was discharged, and put his Secret Secret detail in harm's way during a joyride in a sealed automobile to wave to well-wishers. 

Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, called Trump's move "completely unnecessary" and "political theater."

"That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack," the Phillips tweeted. "The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.