On Saturday afternoon, just a week over announcing he tested positive for COVID-19, President Donald Trump made his first public appearance from the White House balcony. Below him, hundreds of guests — predominantly African American and Hispanic men and women — gathered on the lawn. While many wore masks, little social distancing was witnessed, and health experts are not only concerned about the potential spread of the virus at the event, but the message sent by the President about the pandemic during his speech.
"Bringing large crowds to the White House while likely still infectious is a very bad idea, to say the least," Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and expert in pandemic preparedness explains to Eat This, Not That! Health. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Mareiniss also points out that the demographic Trump invited to the event is considered a higher risk. Per the CDC, both groups are nearly 5 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus than White people. "The Hispanics and African Americans in our country have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic," he explains. It's really ridiculous to subject them to potential risk." Overall, it was "very tone deaf of him and irresponsible" to host the event.
Then, there was his speech itself and namely his assertion that the virus is going to disappear. "As you know, the facts don't support this idea," Dr. Mareiniss points out. "Currently, cases are rising and all evidence points to a potentially difficult winter."
Near the end, President Trump also claimed that lockdowns are unscientific and will hurt the economy. "Truth is there is abundant evidence that social distancing measures likely prevented millions of infections," states Dr. Mareiniss. "Also, evidence from studies from the 1918 pandemic show that nonpharmaceutical interventions and distancing measures, when enacted early by cities, significantly decreased disease burden and mortality."
Some Tests Are Less Accurate Than Others
On Saturday evening President Trump's physician Dr. Sean Conley released a memo claiming that Trump is no longer contagious.
"This evening I am happy to report that in addition to the President meeting CDC criteria for the safe discontinuation of isolation, this morning's COVID PCR sample demonstrates, by currently recognized standards, he is no longer considered a transmission risk to others," it read. He added that Trump is 10 days from the onset of symptoms, has not experienced a fever for "well over 24 hours" and diagnostic tests confirm that "there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus."
However, Dr. Mareiniss points out that in addition to all tests having the potential of having a false negative rate, some diagnostic tests — including the Abbott Labs ID NOW PCR test, which the White House has used — has been shown to be potentially inaccurate. "It is a much faster test than other PCR tests, taking minutes rather than hours. However, prior studies at NYU showed that it did not detect COVID-19 in 1/3 of samples with known virus," he explains. "Other PCR tests may be more accurate." Therefore, "even if the test is negative, it's not 100% assurance."
Additionally, there is the fact that "the President appeared to fit the criteria for a severe COVID-19 infection," and, "CDC guidelines recommend up to 20 days of isolation." As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.