State Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) reads to students at Mann Learning Community in celebration of March is Reading Month on Friday, March 29, 2019. (Photo: Michigan House Democrats(

by Zack Linly —

As President Trump continues to push the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, medical experts remain divided on the use of a drug that has yet to be proven as a safe and effective remedy for the virus. Despite the conflicting narratives, one Democratic state representative appears to be convinced of the drug’s efficacy.

According to Detroit Free Press, Detroit State Rep. Karen Whitsett learned Monday that she tested positive for COVID-19 and she credits hydroxychloroquine in aiding her fight with the disease.

Whitsett said she was prescribed the drug by her doctor after she and her husband sought treatment for a number of symptoms and had been taking it since the end of March. She claims that in “less than two hours” she started to feel relief from symptoms that included shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes and sinus issues, though she is still experiencing headaches.

Whitsett was already familiar with hydroxychloroquine, having used it when she was battling Lyme disease, but she credits Trump’s promotion of the drug as the reason she thought to ask her doctor for it to treat her recent symptoms.

“It has a lot to do with the president…bringing it up,” Whitsett said. “He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority.”

Of course, Trump didn’t waste any time making certain that his Twitter followers knew of his apparent success, telling Whitsett that he is “So glad you are getting better.”

So far, any evidence that hydroxychloroquine helps treat coronavirus has been anecdotal at best. So it can’t be emphasized enough that medical health professionals still do not agree on whether it actually works or not and whether it has been studied closely enough. In fact, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease specialist, has repeatedly advised against the president touting it as such.

“I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” Dr. Fauci told Fox News on Friday. “We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, any intervention is truly safe and effective.”

It has also been suggested that Trump stands to gain financially from the drug’s use.

From the New York Times:

If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.

As long as there are people like Rep. Whitsett who may have actually been helped by the drug and publicly advocate for its use, Trump will likely continue to ignore the naysayers in the medical community and continue aggressively selling it as a remedy.

When asked if she thinks Trump may have saved her life by promoting the drug, Whitsett said, “Yes, I do,” and “I do thank him for that.”

(Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons.)