Romano Law Nurse Corner COVID-19 #31
The Constitution has no provision regarding presidential immunity akin to the speech or debate clause that protects members of Congress in performing their official duties. Nevertheless, most Presidents have claimed the constitutional structure implicitly protects their ability to execute their constitutional obligations. See Nixon v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 731 (1982) and its progeny.
Political positions aside, we are compelled to address the “news” that the President has garnered “immunity” to COVID-19. Yes, it appears our President has escaped a SEVERE case of COVID-19 thanks to Walter Reed Military Hospital and experimental viral treatments, only offered to him. On Sunday, he tweeted his claim that he is “immune” to the virus and that he cannot give it to anyone. He urges us not to be afraid of COVID-19 and that he has beaten it.
As nurses, we believe the medicine and science concerning COVID-19. As a result of this understanding we find these claims to be questionable and irresponsible. Recently, numbers of cases are rising across the country, particularly in the Midwest. Europe has seen a resurgence with some countries recording their highest daily numbers of infections since there has been widespread testing. Some countries have recently reinstituted compulsory mask wearing. The World Health Organization recently reported a record one-day increase in positive cases with the total rising by 338,779 in a 24-hour span. That is a lot of folks infected with this potentially deadly disease, clearly COVID-19 is far from being “beaten”.
While there is some amount of immunity (your system produces antibodies in response to the virus) in a person who has had an active COVID-19 infection, just how strong or how long that immunity lasts are unknown. In fact, Twitter flagged the President’s post saying it contained misleading and potentially harmful misinformation related to the virus. As we have been writing weekly, the science has shown, this kind of post infection transmission information is just not that clear to anyone at this time. While data continues to be collected, this virus has shown itself to act in unexpected ways. There have been some recovered patients that have been reinfected and most experts agree that there are significant questions that remain about immunity to the novel Coronavirus.
Over the weekend, the President’s doctor, Sean Conley, MD, released a report that said he is no longer a transmission risk to others. This announcement was contained in a memo that seemed to give President Trump permission to return to his normal work activities and of course, campaigning. He noted that the President had met the CDC criteria for safe discontinuation and that “an assortment of diagnostic tests” found no evidence of “actively replicating virus”. What this report did not say is that the president has had a negative test nor what assortment of tests this was based on. Since President Trump was 10 days from the onset of symptoms and had been fever free for over 24 hours, he did meet the CDC criteria standards for people with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 who can stop isolating. However, exactly what “level” of infection the President had is unknown.
Experts say that people with severe cases of COVID-19 are told to isolate for 20 days. Since Trump was hospitalized, administered supplemental oxygen and treated with dexamethasone he meets the criteria for serious cases, according to Albert Ko, an infectious disease expert at Yale School of Public Health. In fact, Ko said it really depends on if the President had severe, moderate or mild disease, however most physicians would be most cautious about protecting both the President and the people around him. While there are news reports suggesting the President has had a series of negative tests, we have not been provided with details. When was the actual first positive test? How many negative tests and most importantly when? If there are confirmed negative tests, Ko, along with most experts, agree that would be a clearer indication of Trump’s not being infectious any longer. Unfortunately, we are left speculating about which test Dr. Conley might be referring to which indicates that the President is noninfectious. Further, there is no ignoring the political indication of this sudden amazing recovery as an indication of his great response to the virus.
Interestingly, there was a new political ad that was released by the Trump campaign touting that he beat the virus, including an obviously out of context video clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that Trump had “tackled the virus head on, as leaders should”. Fauci’s response to this ad was to say that he has never publicly endorsed a political candidate in his nearly 5 decades of public service and that these comments are out of context from a broader statement that he made. Fauci stated that he was “totally surprised” by the ad and that it had featured him without his consent.
Whichever political side you fall on, please be safe. Masks are the single greatest weapon we have against the spread of this virus. Wear your masks, mine protects you, yours protects me.
We are Susan Ramsey and Amie Goldberg, both practicing attorneys and nurses here at the Romano Law Group. Here is a little more about each of us:
Susan Ramsey is both an attorney and an RN. Ms. Ramsey’s professional experience began as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree, she was a counselor with the New Haven Rape Crisis Program. During her time with the Program, Ms. Ramsey counseled sexual assault survivors and performed seminars for local police departments, universities, and high schools. During her time working as a registered nurse, Ms. Ramsey decided to attend law school. Ms. Ramsey graduated from CUNY Law School, and has practiced law in several different State and Federal Courts. She is a Florida Heath Care Risk Manager and a member of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force. Ms. Ramsey actively litigates cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death on behalf of survivors, cases include injuries suffered by victims of professional negligence, product liability and medical negligence.
Amie Goldberg is both an attorney and a certified APRN. After completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Whittier College, Ms. Goldberg attended nursing school at Emory University. Ms. Goldberg’s professional experience started as a Registered Nurse at Egleston Children’s Hospital taking care of children with congenital heart disease. After a few years, she continued working in all areas of the hospital while attending Kennesaw State University on weekends in order to get her Master’s Degree in Nursing with a specialty of Primary Care Nurse Practitioner/Family Nurse Practitioner. During her time as an APRN, Ms. Goldberg decided to attend law school at St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. Since graduating, she has mainly practiced in the areas of personal injury and worker’s compensation, fighting for the rights of injured people. Since joining the Romano Law Group, Ms. Goldberg has been the Director of the Opioid Litigation Project. Ms. Goldberg also practices in the area of medical malpractice and nursing home negligence, bringing an inside perspective and knowledge to help get justice for our clients.