Sen. Mark Warner calls President Trump’s tweet with false COVID-19 info ‘grossly irresponsible’


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) –A firm rebuke came from U.S. Sen. Mark Warner Tuesday after the president retweeted a post that contained a controversial video about the coronavirus that defies the science the disease.

The Democrat made the comments during a virtual meeting with the region’s leading healthcare providers.

Warner listened to their concerns in a video call that took place as Democrats and Republicans in Washington are wrestling over the details of the fifth and wide-ranging stimulus bill to help schools, businesses and the unemployed. But some say what’s not helping the process: more mixed messages from the president.

On Monday, the president wore a mask in public, but Monday night he retweeted a video that disputed the need to wear masks, and the video promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine which has been rejected by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for COVID-19.

“I think it’s incumbent upon any responsible leader to give advice based upon the best science and the best science is wear your mask,” said Warner.

Dr. Mike Dacey, president and chief clinical operations officer for Riverside Health Systems, weighed in on the controversial drug.

“Hydroxychloroquine has not proven to be effective; it’s not a part of our regimen that we routinely use on patients, ” said Dacey

During the meeting, Dacey’s colleagues at Chesapeake Regional Health Care, Bon Secours Hampton Roads, and Sentara Health Care offered the senator a check-up of sorts on the health of healthcare across the region.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow in Virginia, cracks are surfacing in systems for testing, staffing, and medication.

Dr. Joel Bundy, chief of quality and safety officer at Sentara Healthcare, told Warner the entire region is dealing with a shortage of supplies needed to test — especially for those who are without symptoms.

“We don’t have enough ability to test the people who want [the COVID-19 test], so we have to prioritize,” said Bundy, who also shared concerns about staffing. Across Sentara facilities, 150 employees — mostly nurses — are out of work and in quarantine.

Reese Jackson, the president and chief executive officer at Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, says Chesapeake General is taking a financial hit as the hospital now has to pay for an antiviral drug that has been effective in treating COVID-19 patient.

“At Chesapeake General, our monthly expense $150,000 per month. We are in essence triaging [with] the use [of] Remdesivir,” Jackson said.

Amy Carrier, president of Bon Secours Hampton Roads, told the senator telemedicine may help address some of the challenges healthcare providers face as the infection numbers continue to grow.

“How can we manage a COVID-positive population and a non-COVID population and do it safely?” Carrier asked.

As stimulus package discussions continue, Warner told the region’s top healthcare providers he will call for a robust package to address the pandemic. Republicans have presented a $1 trillion plan; Democrats are calling for a $3 trillion response.

“This is not a time to nickel and dime — this is a time to throw the kind of resources the United States has the capacity to bring to bear in what is a crisis situation,” said Warner.

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