We need to talk about Trump and the hydroxychloroquine.

I’ve been trying to keep it local. I’ve been trying to focus on facts and data, and not the political sideshow emanating from our centers of power in the county, state and nation.

All that business will have its day in the six months leading up to the election.

But I can’t just sit here and let the president of the United States tell people that he’s taking a drug — every day! For almost two weeks! — with dangerous, often deadly, side effects.

Some COVID-19 patients have been treated with hydroxychloroquine. One of my oldest friends — male, forties, in the New York area — was administered the drug after spending a couple weeks in the hospital, during which time he also took in 13 liters of oxygen through his respirator. His doctors said he was a good candidate for it because he has a pacemaker — one of hydroxychloroquine’s side effects is irregular heartbeat, but the pacemaker would take care of that.

Side effects are rare, but yeah, death is one of them, along with a few others.

The FDA has specifically warned against its use outside of a hospital setting — because, you know, sometimes people die. Not a lot of them. But definitely some of them.

And a flurry of studies suggest that maybe it’s not all that effective a treatment —a new one from the National Institute of Health began last week, so we’ll have some more data soon.

Trump, though… Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative. And not because his doctor prescribed it, but because he “heard a lot of good stories” about it. No studies have been done about hydroxychloroquine as a preventative, though a couple are in the works.

But they’re giving it to him anyway! For almost two weeks now!

And he’s talking about it on TV! In front of millions of people!

I know this is nothing new, our president saying stupid stuff on TV that often leaves his supporters scrambling to explain or justify what he actually meant to say. But this was unequivocal: “I’m taking it — hydroxychloroquine. Right now,” he said on Monday at a public round-table meeting with restaurant-industry execs, like a guy standing next to you at a bar saying he just dropped some molly.

It’s just unbelievable.

I wish I had more to offer you than my outrage and flummox, so I’ll close with some advice.

Don’t take hydroxychloroquine unless a doctor advises it.

And never take advice from a guy who closes with, “What the hell have you got to lose?”

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