Over the weekend, President Trump signaled his frustration with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and a lead member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. This comes after Dr. Fauci said in an interview that more lives could have been saved from the coronavirus if the country had been shut down earlier. In response to these comments, Trump reposted a tweet from a former Republican congressional candidate that had the statement “Time to #FireFauci” in it.
The tweet came as he responded to criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 people in the United States. In addition to Dr. Fauci, Trump tweeted several messages that also pointed blame at China, the World Health Organization, President Obama, the nation’s governors, Congress, Democrats and the news media. Trump has repeatedly pointed to the travel limits he implemented against China to defend his handling of the pandemic. However, experts say the limits were to buy the government and country time to ramp up widespread testing and impose social distancing policies before infections could begin growing exponentially, but the administration didn’t do this. In mid-February, advisers had put forth a list of measures, such as school closures, sports and concert cancellations and stay-at-home orders, that could help reduce the spread of the virus, but the president didn’t support them until mid-March.
Another concern is that a method of treatment for COVID-19, chloroquine, that Trump has been supporting without any scientific evidence for the past several weeks, was being tested in trials that had to be stopped because participants developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia resulting in several deaths. The study was small and being conducted out of Brazil. Of the 81 participants, about half were given a dose of 450 milligrams of chloroquine twice daily for five days. The other half were prescribed a higher dose of 600 milligrams for 10 days. By the third day, researchers started noticing heart arrhythmias in patients taking the higher dose and by day six, 11 patients had died, which led to an immediate end to the high-dose segment of the trial. Unfortunately, the study didn’t have enough people in the lower-dose portion of the trial to conclude if chloroquine was effective at this dosage. This information comes to light as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had granted emergency approval to allow hospitals to use chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine from the national stockpile since clinical trials were not likely to be completed quickly enough to determine if it’ll be helpful.
As government officials debate the handling of the pandemic and scientists race to find a treatment, poor Americans are having a difficult time practicing social distancing due to their jobs and living conditions. Since those with more financial instability are unable to afford small, private controlled spaces. Often these individuals share tight quarters with many others and have to leave these places to go to work since their jobs aren’t those that can be done from home. In addition to increased risk of contracting and spreading the virus, being restricted to staying in such environments can lead to increases in child abuse and domestic violence. The affluent can remain inside since they can work on Zoom, shop on Amazon and have their meals delivered. However, poorer people often lack credit cards, computers or other conveniences, so they have to run errands and deal with lines.