Opinion | Trump’s mixed messages on COVID-19 put Americans at risk

Valerie Larsen, Opinion Writer

Throughout Trump’s diagnosis with COVID-19, his inability to be upfront with our country about his conditions down-played the seriousness of this pandemic.

Although he tweeted words of reassurance that this virus is ”nothing to worry about” on his road to recovery, cases continue to surge rapidly around the country. Trump has often referred to the therapeutics he has taken to recover as “miracles.” But, if they are such miracles, then why do we continue to see the death toll in our country continue to rise daily?

Trump creates this message that, because of the therapeutics out there, COVID-19 is
not a threat to our country. Yet, this message does not apply to the average American due to the cost and accessibility of these therapeutics. The way Trump passes off COVID as nothing to worry about after battling it himself is extremely damaging and should not be overlooked. Especially since, as president, he had a huge advantage when it came to treatments for a successful recovery.

Along with that, misleading information coming from a major societal influencer is the last thing we need during a global health crisis.

Shortly after Trump’s recovery, many Americans questioned how accessible the treatment he was offered is to the general public. While yes, these treatments are available, they are not as easy to get ahold of as Trump makes them out to be.

Some COVID-19 patients will decide to participate in clinical trials involving experimental treatments, with the hope that it will help them have a smooth recovery, according to BBC News. Yet, it’s not guaranteed that these participants will receive the full dose of the drug used for each of these respective trials.

“Your chances of actually receiving Regeneron is a 66 percent chance. You have a 33 percent chance you will receive a low dose of Regeneron, a 33 percent chance you will receive a high dose of Regeneron, and a 33 percent chance you will receive a placebo… the study is a limited group of people that have been diagnosed with COVID-19, only 1,560,” stated Diane Larsen, a research coordinator at Northshore University Health System.

In Trump’s case, he was granted the drug Regeneron, through compassionate use. The compassionate use program allows people to receive a drug outside of a clinical trial, and, typically, a request for compassionate use can be a long and challenging process. Fewer than 10 of these compassionate use requests have been granted for Regeneron, so Trump was very lucky that he was able to get access to this drug. “The drug is on a limited supply. The priority is using it for ongoing studies,” according to the Associated Press. This shows how deceptive Trump is and proves Trump’s claim false that therapeutics make COVID-19 less of a risk due to just how hard they are to access.

While it’s still not clear what Trump’s conditions and symptoms were, based on the information that had been let known to the public, it seems as though Trump’s case was mild. Knowing that the compassionate use program has been used by people who are extremely ill, it seems highly unlikely that Trump’s request would have been accepted. So, it confuses me as to why he was granted access to this drug with such ease. It makes me question if he was given the drug because he’s the president, or because he was in a lot worse condition than we think.

Not only is the drug extremely hard to access when going through the compassion-
ate use program, but insurance also would likely not cover the cost of the drug outside of a clinical trial. Most lower-income households would not be able to afford to pay out of pocket for these treatments. The president represents the American people, that responsibility includes promoting a message designed in the best interest of all Americans, not just those who are wealthy and privileged.

Trump also was on Remdesivir and Dexamethasone, which is used to treat severely ill patients. Yet, throughout his time at Walter Reed Medical Center, the message that the doctors conveyed was always positive, as if Trump’s conditions were not

But to debate whether or not Trump should be able to have access to special treatment as a president is not in my main interest: I’m more focused on how Trump frames the scene. How this situation looks in the eyes of an American, who may choose not to see the whole picture. It is understandable that being the president comes with a lot of advantages as to top medical care. But Trump leaves Americans with a false sense of hope that these therapeutics are accessible to the average American. As much as we all want this pandemic to be over with, false hope is not what will be the solution.

Throughout this pandemic, Trump has put his appearance before the lives of Americans. Not once has Trump owned up to his mistakes and admitted that he was wrong. As a result, Trump’s ego has put millions of Americans’ lives at risk.

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old, his only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump—and for that, he paid with his life,” Kristin Urquiza, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said to The New York Times.

Urquiza tells a story that mirrors millions. Trump continuously labels anything about COVID-19 that doesn’t aline with his views as “inaccurate” or “fake news” and that clearly shows that the American people are not in Trump’s best interest.

As we have recently become aware of the 2020 election results, we see President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris already meeting virtually with their own COVID-19 advisory council. While it’s good to see Biden will be taking action on this pandemic, the lives that have been lost due to Trump’s arrogance will never be forgotten.