This week's commentary on the politics of hydroxychloroquine generated many great letters. Here are a few, with answers from the Gov. Be sure to read through to the last one, with a very important consideration from Linda...

From James:

Thank you! I work at a hospital in Oregon; there are currently 5 inpatients out of 35 total confirmed CV-19 cases, in a region of 215,000 people. Our "surge" was 10 inpatients, the current 5 would probably all be discharged if given the HCQ + zinc. Businesses are all shut down due to the overreach of a Democrat governor and this attack on America needs to end now. We don't need a vaccine when there is already a CURE. Thank you for using your connections to shout this from the rooftops.

From the Gov:

Thanks so much for your message “from the trenches.” We can’t call it a cure yet, but anecdotal evidence and results from small studies are very encouraging. Doctors are free to prescribe it for off-label use, but if I understand correctly, you’re saying that even in the hospital, patients in Oregon are just not getting it. Is that because the governor is playing doctor, or why? Let us know!

RELATED READING: Doesn't everybody want a quick end to the pandemic?

From Robin:

Our Founding Fathers risked their lives, their fortunes, [and] their Sacred Honor, [and] the U.S. Military has fought countless battles since 1776 so that one of the things we have a right to do is VOTE! The least we can do is get out and vote! Arm yourself by practicing all the social distancing, masks, disinfectant. But I say a real VOTE! In a real voting booth!

Damn the torpedoes! Full Speed ahead!!

From the Gov:

Darn right! Armed with hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes! Mail-in ballots are for wussies (and cheaters). Thank you!!

From Robin:

I am a physician, an oncologist specifically, so I understand well the need for objective clinical trials to approve efficacy of a particular treatment. I am also a hopeful human being with a heart and would want the treatment for one of my loved ones –- or myself, if I was sick with the virus. Trump is expressing hope –- not trying to be the doctor –- and the media is merciless in skewering him for this. Fauci, on the other hand, is an academic ivory-tower type who is a purist (and sometimes he will turn out to be right –- maybe about this drug) and is not a doctor in the trenches actually taking care of patients in a desperate situation.

From the Gov:

Thank you, doctor, for your reasoned opinion. Couldn’t agree more.

From Jeane:

We’ve had mail-in ballots for all elections in Whatcom County, Washington State, since 2005. No one was asked if we wanted our voting to be changed from the friendly neighborhood stations at the public library or church basement or grange hall or fire station in-person voting method. And since then, somehow, miraculously, Washington State has swung way over to the Left, in everything from local school board elections to the important federal elections. Cause and effect? Absolutely! Election fraud in Washington State has been ridiculous due to mail-in ballots, especially since we are REQUIRED to check on the OUTSIDE [of the] envelope our party preference.

From the Gov:

Again, how conveeeeenient. They don’t even have to open the envelopes to know which ones to “lose.”

From Linda:

I don't ever reply to news articles. Never. But I'm a certified mama bear with a daughter who suffers from Lupus in Savannah, Georgia, and she is suffering greatly because the supply of Plaquenil has dried up for patients who suffer from immune disorders. Her rheumatologist, Dr. Stephens, is the best in Savannah and he can't get it. Subsequently, she's on a substitute drug and it's making her sicker.

By the way, all of the scary side effects of Plaquenil that liberals like to tout are side effects she has to just handle. Her eyes are failing, and it surely might kill her in the long run, but she has been on it for 10 years and her quality of life has been (not great) but manageable. By the way, this 35-year-old is a strong warrior in her faith and her conviction to love one another and her four children.

She is also the first to "sacrifice" her prescription if it's helping someone live through the coronavirus, but why should she have to do this? Why aren't they setting aside enough to take care of the patients who depend on this drug, and have depended on it for many years, at the risk of their own lives?

That's what I would like to know. Thank you.

From the Gov:

"Mama Bear,” your daughter is obviously a champion and should NOT have to sacrifice her health with an inferior substitute treatment. We checked at the Lupus Foundation of America website and see that there is indeed a great deal of concern right now about supplies of the drug, as “there are no good alternatives to hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) or chloroquine (Aralen) for people who need these medications. They are in a class by themselves and have the advantage of not being immunosuppressive...Your doctor will know best what alternatives may be available to you.”

What a terrible situation to be in. Ironically, I think the political push to keep HCQ out of the hands of coronavirus patients might also be making it harder for lupus patients to get the drug. If we had the “green light” to immediately produce MASS QUANTITIES of it to treat this virus on a large scale, rather than waiting for controlled, double-blind studies, there would logically be more medication for lupus patients, too. It’s quite inexpensive to produce. But right now, pharmacies and hospitals in many locations are getting it in dribs and drabs; they’re treating it like pure gold. Doctors who prescribe it for autoimmune disorders need a guaranteed source.

It will be interesting to find out whether people already on HCQ as a maintenance drug are getting COVID-19. At present, the website says there is no evidence that it offers protection from the virus, but I assume that statement is based on the lack of studies. (How long does it take to get some hard data on the infection rates of people who already take HCQ?) For now, they stress that lupus patients need to follow the same cautions as other high-risk people.

It’s good to know that your daughter isn’t suffering from unmanageable long-term side effects after 10 years on Plaquenil, but I’m so sorry she is losing her sight. (As I’m sure you know, the treatment for COVID-19 is only a five-day regimen.) There are some suggestions at the Lupus Foundation website for dealing with the shortage of the drug, though it seems as though you’ve already tried them. I hope and pray that your daughter’s situation is very temporary and that a supply of HCQ will soon be available to all who can be helped by it. Thanks so much for writing.

PS --- My two staff writers had a mom/mother-in-law with lupus, and they know how they would feel if she couldn’t get her medication. They wanted to pass along their best wishes to you and your daughter.

There are much bigger issues to deal with than the wounded pride of a gaggle of juvenile Democratic operatives with by-lines (to use Instapundit’s popular description of today’s “journalists.”) Chief of among them is how and when to reopen the economy so that we avoid both a spike in infections and a prolonged depression.

President Trump has said that choosing when to reopen the economy is the biggest decision he’s ever faced. He noted that if it were up to the doctors, they’d shut down the whole world indefinitely, but we can’t let the treatment become more destructive than the problem.

Another fake controversy was set off by the media when Trump said he has “total” authority over when to reopen the economy. Reporters who only recently emerged from their worship of Obama and rediscovered limits on Presidential power went ballistic over that, but it seemed obvious to me that he wasn’t saying he has “total authority” over the US economy, but over the decision he has to make – in other words, he is listening to the doctors, but the decision is up to him, not them or anyone other advisers. That would be the rational interpretation, which, again, is why most of the news outlets seemed to miss it.

As if to prove that Trump knows he doesn’t have total authority over the entire economy, the governors of several states announced their plans to start reopening for business, and I notice that Trump didn't have them arrested for insurrection.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he thinks most states can reopen sooner than May 1.

With the projected infection rates and death tolls dropping sharply, it appears that the American people, through responsible actions like self-isolating, social distancing, wearing masks and gloves, and washing and disinfecting their hands frequently have made a big impact on the spread of the virus. With regular reminders to stay vigilant, there’s no reason why most businesses can’t start reopening.

For instance, if it’s safe for people who wear masks and stand six feet apart to go to Walmart or CVS for food and drugs (stores that have remained open), then why wouldn’t it be just as safe to go to any other business under the same safety and hygiene standards? Then again, you’d have to explain that logic to at least one Governor, who seems to think it’s safe to go to Walmart to buy bread, but if you also pick up a package of tomato seeds or a pair of shorts, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!

This is a problem that can only be remedied by putting on your masks and gloves and standing six feet apart in long lines to vote out any authoritarians who would use a health crisis to abuse power and shred the Constitution.

I have a theory about why so many “experts,” politicians, media people and government bureaucrats are trying to discourage the use of hydroxycloroquine, in combination with azithromycin and zinc, to treat COVID-19. It’s not just that they oppose anything President Trump has expressed approval for, although that’s part of it. Here’s a thought: what if it’s not because this therapy won’t work, but because it WILL?

In other words: if we do have an effective treatment and/or preventative, the pandemic might be over too soon to be used as an excuse to make all the societal changes some want to impose.

This really hit me when I heard Dr. Anthony Fauci say that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to have in-person elections by November of this year. How many Democrats would LOVE to see mail-in voting for the entire country? How conveeeeeeenient. And don’t listen when they say mail-in ballots don’t encourage election fraud. That’s a crock, as you’ll see from the story linked to here.

Those who want power –- during this pandemic and ever after –- are full of ideas for controlling the population. Steve Hilton, host of THE NEXT REVOLUTION on FOX NEWS, calls it “technocratic hubris...a technocrat’s dream and America’s nightmare.” As he reported on Sunday, former head of the Food & Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb is pushing a plan for “contract tracing,” which “can be achieved through strengthened public health case investigation augmented by technology and community-level collaborations.” It’s a very complicated program of mass virus testing (not antibody testing) to (quoting Dr. Fauci) “identify, isolate, contact-trace” everyone who gets the virus. This is preposterous, when an unknown number, into the millions, have already been or will be exposed to the virus, and the test won’t identify those. But Apple and Google are ready to step up and be a part of this monstrous program to track what in the end could be virtually everyone.

Here’s one alternative (in addition to drug therapy): a science-based “Re-open America Safely, But Soon” proposal that gives specifics on how to do just that, starting as soon as May 1. You’ll want to watch the segment on Steve Hilton’s show, linked here, but in short, the steps are as follows:

STEP 1. Get accurate infection data. We still don’t know how widespread and deadly this virus even is. Based on a Stanford University study done in the San Francisco Bay area, the actual number of infections could be much, much higher than official testing results have shown. If that is true, it means the virus is VERY highly contagious but much less deadly than has been assumed. (It might turn out that the actual mortality rate is more like 1 in 1,000.) To get the data, we need representative-sample community antibody sampling –- as opposed to government antibody surveillance –- to tell us what fraction of a given community has been exposed. Importantly, this kind of sampling is much less expensive than just relentlessly testing every last person; they think it can reasonably be done in every community in the country. And it won’t take long.

STEP 2. Get accurate risk data. The suppositions we have on risk factors (age, underlying conditions, etc.) are too vague at present. We don’t need so much focus on people who will get the virus but will be fine, and the vast majority will. Rather, we need to know why some people who are young and seemingly healthy are getting sick and dying anyway, but Hilton reports that, believe it or not, hospitals have not been collecting data on their medical history. The White House should mandate the collection of this information, called “co-morbidity data.”

STEP 3. Use the information from Steps 1 and 2 to quarantine and protect the truly vulnerable. If we can do this, we don’t have to re-open the economy bit by bit or wait until a vaccine comes out (in a year-and-a-half?) The whole country doesn’t need to stay shut down if millions have already been exposed but have never gotten sick or have recovered.

On Sunday, Hilton interviewed three of the people who put this plan together, including Stanford University Professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, biophysicist Dr. Andrew Bogan, and JetBlue founder David Neeleman. Dr. Bhattacharya added an important point: that most casualties are happening in hospitals that have been overwhelmed, so the “opening up” may be delayed in areas in which those hospitals are located. (I would point out that starting drug therapy sooner might help with that, too.)

Neeleman noted that the reason we’re shut down is that we haven’t figured out who the people are who are at risk of grave illness and how to protect not everyone, but THOSE people. The idea is to save the economy AND those at risk. “I think we can do both if we do it right,” Neeleman said.

Hilton is hoping that those who like the “Safely, But Soon” idea will TELL THE PRESIDENT and/or your governor. You can follow Hilton on Twitter @SteveHiltonx or @NextRevFNC.

Their overview of the plan didn’t even touch on hydroxychloroquine as a promising treatment or even a preventative. But the “anecdotes” just keep coming; here’s the first-hand account in TOWNHALL from coronavirus patient Charles Vavruska, who ended up with double pneumonia and a dreaded trip to the ER at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, New York. (Queens is pretty much the epicenter of the pandemic.) The bright spot in this is that after being admitted to the hospital, he could be put on hydroxychloroquine and zinc. “The Trump Treatment?” he asked the nurse. “Yes, the Trump Treatment,” she replied.

Nineteen hours after his first dose, he was already feeling better. After three days, his fever and aches were gone, and his energy and appetite were back. He was still on oxygen, but at a low level. (Note: that is not the same as being on a ventilator; fortunately, he got the drugs before needing one of those.) He’s home now and credits “the Trump Treatment” for his recovery.

But he notes with great consternation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has banned this therapy EXCEPT in hospitals. “Why not treat COVID-positive individuals BEFORE they deteriorate sufficiently to require hospitalization?” he asks. This would prevent more serious illness and relieve overburdened hospitals.

He’s right; Cuomo shouldn’t be “playing doctor,” and his arbitrary restriction on this is ridiculous. Drug companies have donated 100 million doses of HCQ to the federal government, and more are coming. Everyone who has come down with respiratory symptoms from COVID-19 should be able to receive this drug. Just think how many more “anecdotes” we would have from which to collect data. But, no, that might be too easy a solution, and we might be able to get back to normal too quickly for some.

Here’s his story in the NEW YORK POST.

HUCKABEE researcher/writer Laura Ainsworth has more to say, personally, on this issue, in a “from the trenches” installment from her home in the Dallas area. You see, it’s not just at the federal level that some people have a desire to control and are resisting a treatment that might possibly end the shut-down. It happens locally, too. But you can bet that if she gets the virus, she will move heaven and earth to get “The Trump Treatment,” BEFORE having to be admitted to a hospital!

RELATED READINGAinsworth: In Dallas, how much "emergency" control is too much?

Even with 24/7 virus coverage, I’ll bet you haven’t heard much about what it’s like here in Dallas, Texas. We’re not making much national news, which surprises me a little, as we’ve definitely got some issues going on that relate to the larger discussion: control of the virus vs. control of Americans. As someone who lives in a suburb inside Dallas County –- only in the most technical sense am I not a Native Texan –- it seemed like a good idea to bring them up.

First, it should be said that I agree with the theory expressed in the Gov's earlier commentary that some of the resistance to the hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin treatment is not out of concern that it won’t work, but that it WILL. Absolutely, there are those who want to use this pandemic to introduce all sorts of societal controls; I’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s look at the front page of Sunday's DALLAS MORNING NEWS, specifically the unenthusiastic headline: “D-FW hospitals sent unproven drug.” I realize writer Allie Morris of the DSM’s Austin Bureau probably didn’t come up with that headline, but it certainly shows the mindset of whoever did.

RELATED READINGDoesn't everybody want a quick end to the pandemic?

The good news is, North Texas hospitals are getting at least some HCQ; Medical City locations reportedly received a total of 5,000 tablets, but one gets the impression they’re being held onto very tightly. A spokesperson said they’re being used only for “certain” COVID-19 patients “with appropriate informed consent." The approach throughout the article is extremely cautious; you won’t see any accounts of miraculous cures or enthusiastic endorsements like the one linked to in our earlier commentary –- only the message that 1) the drug is not FDA-approved for this use (actually, that’s misleading; it’s approved for “emergency” use, and off-label use is up to the doctor), 2) there are worrisome side effects (many doctors would say these are overblown and that the drug is one of the safest), and 3) that it might make some patients feel better but they don’t know until they have more data.

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Contrast this dismissiveness with the slant of the adjacent article (if you’re looking at the actual printed edition): “Managing crisis with experience,” a softball piece about Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. It's not widely known that a county judge in Texas has sweeping powers during an emergency; he can pretty much take over and run the show, and that’s what Jenkins has done, to the point where the county commissioners stepped in to limit his power. Jenkins has clamped down hard on the local economy, harder than Gov. Greg Abbott.

As the piece says, “He has knowingly sacrificed a booming economy in the state’s second-most populous county to save people’s lives. Each urgent step he has taken –- often ahead of the rest of the state –- has been informed by his faith, science and experience gleaned from a decade of managing complex public health crises such as West Nile and Ebola, say those who know him. Jenkins, a Democrat first elected to the role in 2010, has emerged as a decisive leader whose restrictions –- including a stay-in-place order –- have led the regional response to the pandemic.”

I swear, this piece could have been written by a public relations firm. Jenkins has been “championed” by health care experts and hospital CEOs for “his proactive response to the pandemic.” The praise goes on and on, saying that “speculation has swirled about Jenkins’ political future...his growing fan base on social media regularly encourages him to run for governor.”

Full disclosure: I strongly disagreed with Judge Jenkins a few years ago when the issue of unaccompanied children at the Mexican border affected our own community; Jenkins was determined to wave them on into Dallas County and house them in a vacant middle school building smack in the middle of a residential area near my own neighborhood. (He certainly didn’t seem concerned about contagion then.) He was quoted in THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS as saying there was no neighborhood opposition, which I know was not the case because I was vocally opposed to it myself, along with many others. It looked as though this was just going to happen, but then for some reason I’ll never know, it didn’t. Maybe since we weren’t in an emergency then, he didn’t get to use dictatorial powers.

Anyway, the juxtaposition of these two articles communicates very clearly the mindset of the left: A promising drug therapy that Trump advocates in the hope it will save lives: “unproven.” The economy-destroying lock-down of an entire county that a local official imposes in the hope it will save lives: “proactive.”

Speaking of dictatorial powers, Daniel Horowitz at CONSERVATIVE REVIEW has a great piece on the growing police state surrounding this contagion. “As the Supreme Court has said many times,” he writes, “there are times when life, liberty and property can be infringed upon, but it must be narrowly tailored to the least invasive means needed to achieve the compelling state interest. What is happening now is anything but narrow.”

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He goes on to list numerous examples of ridiculous law-enforcement overreach, some of which we’ve covered here, involving such horrible sins as going for a drive alone, paddleboarding alone in the ocean, sitting alone in a car at the beach, violating a 10 p.m. curfew (the virus spreads much faster after dark, you know), and more. He mentions the research Google is doing to develop the means to track people. And he credits Florida Gov. Ron deSantis as being that rare governor who says “we can’t start ripping up the Constitution.”

We all know there are people who can’t wait to rip up the Constitution, and who have even put some little tears into the edges of the paper so they can rip it more dramatically, the way Nancy Pelosi did with Trump’s State Of The Union speech.

I’m not saying your average “progressive” voter literally wants thousands more people to die so we can have the all-controlling police state leftists dream of (with them in charge). But a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, and the longer this virus sticks around, the more “emergency” controls officials can put in place forever. If some cheap, widely-used little pills have the power to interfere with that, they're fine with dismissing them as “unproven.”