Terry H. Schwadron

May 20, 2020

OK, since you’re asking, I’m taking a chocolate chip every day. Just one. Or maybe two. Semi-sweet.

And I haven’t gotten the coronavirus.

Since I’ve been taking a chocolate chip, usually embedded in a home-baked cookie, the sun has come up each day, the elevator in the building has worked, and my toes have remained just at the far reach of my fingers.

I have not gotten measles or mumps, malaria, lupus or even a sunburn from eating chocolate chips. I’m not saying everyone should, but so far, chips are more than just for kids, for whom they mostly are intended in the original labeling.

For the record, no epidemiologist says chocolate chips will prevent the virus, though plenty of front-line workers eat chocolate chip cookies when they get a chance.

I heard about taking chocolate chips from friends and grandchildren, not from any of my doctors. Indeed, my physical trainer friend said chocolate chips may be okay in moderation, but are unlikely to make me more agile, younger-looking or grow hair on top of my bald head.

Nevertheless, I heard the President of the United States, font of health, economic wonder and personal success, promote taking unproven, promoted substances to prevent a virus that has infected 1.6 million Americans, killing 91,000. In his explanation, virus prevention seems to have nothing to do with the fact that he has teams of people testing everyone who comes in or out of the Oval Office daily or that he doesn’t need to use the subway in his job.

Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine, he says, and he has not gotten the virus, or any bad side effect; therefore, it must be good as a preventive medicine. Nor has he gotten malaria or lupus, the listed benefit of the drug, which is being used for virus only in hospital settings.

The White House Doctor

My question acknowledges that Trump himself reflects a fact-free decision zone, But what was the possible conversation with the White House doc?

It turns out that Dr. Sean Conley was the White House doctor who drew the short straw. In a brief statement, he said that he discussed the pros and cons of taking the drug with Trump after one of his personal valets tested positive for the coronavirus. He and Trump concluded “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”

That’s how it works with my doctor: I tell the docs what drugs I want, and they say, fine let’s go ahead. If only there were some kind of oath that doctors were supposed to follow before giving in to doctors.

Trump, you know, heard some good stories about hydroxychloroquine, so let’s start popping them. Of course, he heard some good stories about bleach and ultraviolet light, but this White House doc did not prescribe a glass of Clorox every day.

Conley seems to have been aware that almost no other recognized epidemiologist thinks this drug is appropriate. But then again, he may have given such a low dose that it is acting more as a placebo than an actual preventative — if he is taking it at all. We’ll never know. We only know that they had a conversation, and may or may not have actually started Trump on the drug.

Funny, you’d think that the White House doctor might suggest, say, wearing a mask and keeping six feet distant from others. Or just, perhaps, this doctor might have suggested that Trump stop talking nonsense about a drug that so far is showing up as a cause of death for people who should not be taking it.

But then, this is a pill for political image and deflection, not for actual preventive disease purposes.

I like thinking it is a good idea to prescribe such a med just because it might make Trump’s attitude a little better.

That, of course, is the theory behind my chocolate chip prescription.

Missed Opportunities

Hey, I hope Trump’s meds work and that he does not come down with the virus. There, that’s the kind of empathetic statement that he forgets to make about the medical, economic and emotional uncertainties arising from his White House policies.

Trump could be modeling good physical distancing behavior. He could be wearing a mask in public places to lessen risk to others. He could be speaking out against those who view contagion and infectious disease as some kind of plot — including his own sons.

We have plenty of good word from people that those tend to lower risk.

Trump could be publicly leaning on businesses to put into place safety regulations to boost worker confidence in their re-opening workplaces. He could be boosting a national testing a contact tracing program to help keep new outbreaks low.

A practical preventive move would be to build up Obamacare and Medicare/Medicaid instead of moving to cut them, and to ensure we are prepared for a predicted second wave of coronavirus,

Meanwhile, I’m sticking with chocolate chips, a mask and common sense.



Journalist, musician, community volunteer