UNC doctor fears White House sending wrong message following President’s COVID-19 infection

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dr. David Wohl at UNC Medical Center right in the thick of the COVID-19 response. He’s working with COVID-19 patients and has worked with the response to Ebola years ago. He fears the president is sending the wrong message amid his own battle with COVID-19.

President Donald Trump said in a statement earlier this week, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

“It mocks the battle that so many people have fought and lost,” said Dr. Wohl.

A death toll surpassing 210,000 is why Dr. Wohl said Americans can’t let their guard down yet. He said determining who is likely to die from the virus is still somewhat of a game of Russian roulette. While the virus is said to be a bigger risk for older populations, it has claimed the life of young people and spared older patients.

Dr. Wohl called the White House’s response their own COVID-19 outbreak a missed opportunity for increased messaging of the seriousness of the virus.

“The disdain that’s being still shown even after infection is running throughout the White House for masks is just perplexing for me,” said Dr. Wohl.

Dr. Wohl said downplaying the illness caused by the virus, undermines the work of healthcare professionals and dismisses the struggle of people who have lost loved ones to the virus.

“We should think about how do we get you in into our ICU to see people hooked up to breathing machines? How do we show you people who care is being withdrawn for because there’s nothing left to do and then they die?”

All this in light of the president’s removal of his mask upon his arrival at the White House as he continued to carry the virus. Even so, the president has repeatedly insisted he’s feeling well since his infection last week. Dr. Wohl believed the president’s own ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ treatment proves the president was seriously ill from the virus. Some of the treatments he received are typically reserved for the sickest patients.

“I’m not too surprised that someone would say I haven’t felt this good in 20 years. Once you get on some of these corticosteroids, they do make you feel good,” Dr. Wohl said.

The doctor now hoped the public will rally around scientists rather than politicians.

Long-term impacts

While COVID-19 is still new, doctors are starting to get an idea of the long term health issues following infection and what could potentially be in store for the president in the weeks to come.

Scientists have found impacts to the:

  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Kidney
  • Brain

The American Psychological Association reports COVID-19 survivors have reported fatigue, brain fog, and sleep disturbance. John Hopkins Medicine noted in a report that the body’s own immune system response to a virus can damage and inflamed the heart. The National Kidney Foundation reported back in May that acute kidney injury impacted about 15 percent of hospitalized patients, many of whom now in need of dialysis.

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