from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Other Voices April 10, 2020
by Robin Armstrong
We in the medical community are now confronting the scenario we’ve trained for throughout our careers but hoped never to see: a true nationwide public health crisis.
Two months ago, it was business as usual for my medical practice. But now, the global coronavirus pandemic has reached a critical phase in Texas, and the actions we take — both as doctors and as community members — will go a long way toward determining how many of our fellow citizens will suffer and die from this disease.
As we medical professionals brace for the influx of patients and make the necessary preparations, I am reassured by the seriousness with which President Donald Trump is taking the situation and by the specific assistance his administration has provided doctors and other professionals on the front line of this pandemic.
The president is calling upon an important impulse in the American spirit — something that resides deep in the heart of every patriotic citizen.
His daily news conferences updating Americans on the situation and emphasizing the need for everyone to rigorously follow social distancing, hand washing and testing protocols have undoubtedly already saved lives. So did the president’s early action in restricting travel from China, the source of the novel coronavirus, and later Europe, the current epicenter of the pandemic.
The President’s “15 Days to Stop the Spread” initiative put in plain terms for all Americans the guidance we doctors agree with. To minimize the number of deaths, we must all work from and stay at home as much as possible, practice fastidious hand-washing and hygiene, and avoid unnecessary travel and social contact — particularly in this critical phase.
Beyond the information and morale-boosting, this president is demonstrating the benefits of bold and effective leadership.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is operating at level one activation around the country, including in Texas. That lets those of us working in local hospitals know that tremendous federal resources are available to back us up if our own facilities become overwhelmed.
The Department of Defense is also behind us, with the U.S. Navy contributing hospital ships and the Army Corps of Engineers authorized to build temporary hospitals as needed. The Department of Health and Human Services is fully engaged, too, working closely with private industry to make widespread, rapid and accurate testing a reality.
The White House has sought to eliminate any regulations that might hamper our response to the virus. Health-privacy penalties and other laws are being relaxed to facilitate more telehealth visits, keeping doctors and nurses safer from infection and helping to stop the spread. Time-consuming requirements for vaccine development have been waived. Alcohol distilleries have been granted permission to produce hand sanitizer. Corporations are converting their factories to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment for our health care providers.
Most encouragingly of all, the most promising treatments yet proposed for COVID-19 — off-label uses of a variety of already FDA-approved drugs with known risk factors — are being sped to the front lines thanks to the personal intervention of the president. It echoes his decisive support for “Right to Try” legislation that is now saving the lives of once-terminal patients.
This administration’s comprehensive and innovative strategy for combating the coronavirus is enormously encouraging to me as a physician. But it’s also encouraging to me as a Republican National Committeeman and a proud member of the Black Voices for Trump coalition.
To me, the president’s aggressive response to this invisible enemy is the most compelling proof yet that he’s the right person to lead our nation.
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