The President of the United States was recently hospitalized for four days with COVID-19. During that time, most media briefings about POTUS’ health came from Sean Conley, Physician to the President, a telegenic osteopath with no background in epidemiology. He ducked many of the questions asked by the media, and has apparently misrepresented the true state of the President’s health. For this reason we name Sean Conley our Measurement Menace of the Month.
“It came off we were trying to hide something.”
Downplaying the seriousness of the President’s illness, (something the President himself did with respect to the entire pandemic), only makes people more skeptical about COVID-19’s seriousness and the actual science behind the disease. Sadly, the result is that the President’s hospital, Walter Reed Medical Center, appears at best clueless and at worse to be colluding with the White House press office to hide information on the President’s health from the American public.
This is how a Measurement Menace answers a question:
Sean Conley, the president’s physician… was… asked why he had avoided saying during the Saturday briefing whether Trump had ever been given supplemental oxygen.
“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude the team, the president through his course of illness has had,” Conley said. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”
Conley was apparently motivated by “a desire to ‘convey confidence’ and ‘raise the spirits’ of the president.” The purpose of measurement, we might remind the good doctor, is to use data to improve the situation, not make it worse.
Inconsistent reports from different sources
In addition, Conley’s information has been inconsistent with reports from the White House. Although the official word was that the President was doing well, doctors eventually admitted that he has received several treatments that would only have been employed for someone gravely ill.
This inconsistency has prompted the media to seek out other medical authorities to weigh in on what might really be happening:
Ethan Weiss, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who went to New York to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients during the city’s surge, told STAT, “Nothing matches up.” Weiss said that Trump’s medical team had “an impossible job,” but that “you can’t say he’s fine and he’s going home tomorrow and by the way he’s getting dexamethasone, which was shown in [a clinical trial] to be helpful in only the sickest patients.”
…“You don’t want to give it to a patient too early,” Nahid Bhadelia, the medical director of Boston Medical Center’s Special Pathogens Unit, told STAT Friday about dexamethasone. “It’s a blunt instrument, so it may suppress a good immune response as well as a bad one.”
As a result, the voting public received a host of mixed messages about a serious risk to the presidency.
We wish the President a speedy recovery. We also wish the entire administration would make a stronger effort to provide the public with accurate data. We would have expected a prominent medical institution Like Walter Reed to be more factual and forthcoming. Congrats to Sean Conley, Physician to the President, our Measurement Menace of the Month! ∞
Image thanks to wh.gov and Wikipedia.