President Donald Trump, who publicly downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic for months, has tested positive for the coronavirus virus, along with the First Lady Melania Trump.
And Congressman Andy Biggs, a die-hard Trump supporter and local coronavirus skeptic who represents Arizona’s 5th Congressional District, offered some medical advice for the Trumps: They should take hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned about in June, saying it causes potential problems to the hearts and other organs of COVID-19 patients.
“I send my best wishes and prayers to President @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS for quick recoveries from COVID-19,” Biggs wrote in a tweet posted on October 2. “I encourage them to take hydroxychloroquine to assist with their recoveries, & I am confident that they will be resuming their normal routines in the very near future.”
I send my best wishes and prayers to President @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS for quick recoveries from COVID-19.
I encourage them to take hydroxychloroquine to assist with their recoveries, & I am confident that they will be resuming their normal routines in the very near future. pic.twitter.com/LFxIWwvjo5
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) October 2, 2020
Over the spring and summer, Trump touted hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for COVID-19 and even said that he was taking the drug.
But in mid-June, the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients due to a clinical trial involving the drug that found that it “showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery,” and that the findings were consistent with other data showing that the medication is “unlikely to kill or inhibit the virus that causes COVID-19.” The FDA also cautioned against using the drug for COVID-19 patients due to the risk of “serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure.”
Daniel Stefanski, communications director for Congressman Biggs, did not respond to New Times’ request for comment on Biggs’ tweet.
Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the state Department of Health Services, criticized Biggs’ recommendation on Twitter, calling it “inconsistent with the standard of care” for COVID-19.
This advice is inconsistent with the standard of care for COVID19. In fact, the @US_FDA has withdrawn Emergency Use Authorization of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID19.
— Will Humble (@willhumble_az) October 2, 2020
Biggs has a history of issuing controversial opinions on the coronavirus and the pandemic. Back in July, when Arizona’s COVID-19 case numbers were surging, he called for the federal coronavirus task force to be disbanded, alleging that high-profile public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, were undermining Trump’s push to restart the economy amidst the pandemic. His Twitter feed is awash with criticism of COVID-19 lockdowns, mask mandates (despite their proven effectiveness at slowing the spread of the coronavirus), and skepticism of both reported COVID-19 cases and the severity of the virus.
So far, over 200,000 people nationwide have died from COVID-19. In Arizona, the virus has killed more than 5,600 people.
Josh Kelety is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Inlander and Seattle Weekly.