An Ohio Democratic State Representative has called for Donald Trump to be tried for “crimes against humanity,” after Sunday’s press conference in which the president once again promoted the unproven use of an anti-malarial drug against the novel coronavirus.
Throughout the White House briefings, Trump has repeatedly pushed hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment to COVID-19, despite limited evidence of the drug’s effectiveness.
On Sunday, the president doubled down on his assertions, telling reporters that the drug was “being tested now” and claiming “there are some very strong, powerful signs” of its potential as a treatment for coronavirus.
“It’s a great malaria drug. It’s worked unbelievably. It’s a powerful drug on malaria,” Trump said of hydroxychloroquine. “And there are signs that it works on this, very strong signs. And in the meantime, it’s been around a long time. It also works very powerfully on lupus. So, there are some very strong, powerful signs and we’ll have to see.”
Noting that his administration has stockpiled 29 million pills of hydroxychloroquine, the president said the government was “sending them to various labs, our military, we’re sending them to hospitals.”
The president then suggested, “if you don’t have a heart problem, let your doctor think about it.”
“I juts think it is something, you know the expression, I’ve used it for certain reasons…What do you have to lose?”
“If it does work,” Trump said. “it would be a shame we did not do it early.”
When a journalist later attempted to ask Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his take on the drug’s potential, Trump appeared to block the doctor from answering.
“You know how many times he’s answered that question? Maybe 15 times. You don’t have to ask that question,” Trump said.
Given the opportunity to answer the question the anti-malarial drug on CBS’s Face The Nation, Fauci sought to make clear that: “In terms of science, I don’t think we can definitively say it works.”
“The data are really just at best suggestive,” Fauci explained. “There have been cases that show there may be an effect and there are others to show there’s no effect.”
According to The New York Times, Fauci has also privately spoken out against championing hydroxychloroquine as a potential solution until more is known about the drug’s effect on coronavirus.
When discussion around the use of chloroquines in the fight against COVID-19 arose, Fauci reportedly maintained that there was a need for further rigorous testing on the anti-malarial drug.
Despite Fauci’s warnings, Trump continued to push for the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine on Sunday, prompting a wave of Twitter users to call on broadcasters to “#StopAiringTrumpNow” and for the White House to host “#DoctorsOnlyPressConferences”.
Rep. Tavia Galonski tweeted in response to Trump’s remarks, “I can’t take it anymore. I’ve been to The Hague. I’m making a referral for crimes against humanity tomorrow.”
“Today’s press conference was the last straw,” the Democrat added. “I know the need for a prosecution referral when I see one.”
“I know #Trump can hear the sirens from the @WhiteHouse,” artist and activist Jessicka Addams wrote. “No matter what he is not listening,” she said, including the hashtag “#DoctorsOnlyPressConferences.”
The growing calls for the White House to allow health experts to take the lead on informing the public on the latest updates on efforts to combat the pandemic come as a petition calling for broadcasters to stop sharing live coverage of the briefings has neared more than 300,000 signatures.
Rather than broadcasting live coverage of the White House’s COVID-19 briefings, the MoveOn petition has asked broadcasters to monitor the briefings instead “and have your anchors and correspondents quickly share appropriately edited valuable accurate parts.”
In recent days, broadcasters have started to do just that, with a number of outlets, including CNN and MSNBC, breaking away from coverage of the briefing when the discussion appears to veer away from efforts to combat COVID-19.
Newsweek has contacted the White House and Dr. Fauci for comment.
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
- Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
- If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
- Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
Mask and glove usage
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.
- Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
- The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.