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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

HealthNews and information

Health Care 504: COVID(-19) Me Not

Ever since we began covering the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been working our hardest to deliver true news and accurate information based on real science. Unfortunately, some “wellness experts”, politicians, and “media personalities” don’t share our goal. As long as they continue to spread “fake news” about the novel coronavirus, we’ll have to continue debunking their lies.

Once more, with (extra) feeling: Don’t take medical advice from Donald Trump!
COVID-19, coronavirus, Steve Sisolak
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak discusses measures to help the public with housing stability amid the COVID-19 public health crisis at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae

At his public briefing last night, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) took another question on hydroxychloroquine, the drug that’s typically used to treat malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Last month, Sisolak approved new pharmacy regulations to ensure sufficient hydroxychloroquine supply for patients who actually need it and prevent those who don’t from hoarding the drug and reducing the supply for everyone else. Again last night, Sisolak indicated that he’s consulting with actual medical professionals who base their advice on actual medical science when it comes to regulating hydroxychloroquine.

This stands in stark contrast to President Donald Trump. First, The New York Times is reporting that Trump himself and others in his administration have investments in mutual funds that include stock in Sanofi, the manufacturer of a leading hydroxychloroquine brand name drug. When Trump infamously declared hydroxychloroquine a “game changer”, was he really just referring to his stock portfolio?

Second, Trump still refuses to listen to actual scientists and medical professionals who caution that there’s not enough actual evidence proving that hydroxychloroquine truly is some kind of “game changer” in COVID-19 treatment. Rather, The Daily Beast is reporting that Trump has been telling administration officials to consult none other than Dr. Oz, the celebrity “wellness expert” who’s been hyping up the alleged “game changing” potential of hydroxychloroquine despite the overall lack of evidence. 

While we’re at it, let’s take a closer look at Dr. Oz’s shady stats.

As I hinted back in January, Dr. Mehmet Oz is notorious amongst medical professionals for forsaking proven medical science and instead promoting all kinds of pseudo-science, from homeopathy to psychics. Yet because Oprah Winfrey (in)famously launched his TV career by declaring him “America’s Doctor”, the general public came to trust Dr. Oz so much that none other than Donald Trump appeared on his TV show in September 2016 to promote his presidential campaign.

Once upon a time, Oz showed promise as a cardiothoracic surgeon whose byline appeared frequently in medical science journals. But then, Oz began to promote reiki, even though there is no scientific evidence that “energy healing” heals anything (except for, perhaps, these healers’ bank accounts). From there Oz went on to promote even more pseudo-science, and Oprah’s official seal of approval allowed him to preach to even more people the gospel of “Brazilian spirit medium ‘John of God’”, magical “metabolism boosters”, and even anti-vaccine propaganda

Keep all of this in mind whenever Trump tells us all to trust Dr. Oz when he parrots Trump’s “game changing” hype on hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 medicine. And for that matter, keep this in mind whenever NBC and Fox News bring Dr. Oz back into their respective studios to peddle more “immunity boosting” (read: pseudo-scientific) nonsense.

The scams are everywhere, including on our Facebook feeds.

Since our last check-in on the “wellness industry”, we have seen some good news. For one, Goop has been turning more towards proven science in its COVID-19 coverage since “Goop trusted expert” Kelly Brogan took to her own social media channels to spread “vaccines = totalitarian governmental control” conspiracy theories. And despite some media outlets’ continuing reliance on snake oil peddlers like Dr. Oz, recent polls show most Americans trust medical professionals more than Trump and “wellness experts” on COVID-19.

Yet at the same time, there’s still a large enough minority of American voters putting their faith in these phony “experts” to complicate state and local authorities’ social distancing enforcement. Sure, most of these folks are probably not listening to Alex Jones claiming all of this is some “globalist plot to control us all!” Yet when people continue to yell and scream all over social media (cough – Facebook – cough) about the “coronavirus hoax”, I can’t help but wonder how much influence that Fox News, Alex Jones, QAnon, an odd array of celebrities, a wide array of “Christian soldiers”, and another wide array of “vaccine safety activists” hold as they spread misinformation that often makes its way onto your perpetually angry uncle’s Facebook page via Trump tweet and/or “wellness expert” media hit. 

Towards the end of his public briefing last night, Sisolak threatened more stringent social distancing enforcement if a large enough minority of Nevadans continue to defy the state’s “stay at home” and non-essential business shutdown orders. As painful as it is for nearly all of us, early evidence from California and Washington State point toward the effectiveness of setting and enforcing widespread social distancing rules. If we don’t want to be told to stay at home indefinitely, we need to tune out the “fake news”, toss aside the snake oil “cures”, and stick with what works.

If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health DistrictWashoe County Health DistrictCarson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square.

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