Fact check: Did a Democratic lawmaker in Michigan credit Trump for her COVID-19 recovery?

The claim: A Michigan Democratic state representative praised President Donald Trump and the drug hydroxychloroquine for her recovery from COVID-19

On Tuesday, Ben Shapiro, a prominent conservative, posted a video on his Facebook page with the headline "INCREDIBLE: Democratic State Lawmaker Thanks President Trump For Saving Life." The post also reads: "Democratic State Representative, Karen Whitsett, credits President Trump for saving her life and for pushing hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus."

Later in the day, President Donald Trump congratulated the Democratic Michigan state representative for her recovery from COVID-19 during an evening press briefing.

"She thought she was dead," the president said at the administration's coronavirus task force briefing. "I think she'll be voting for me now."

Whitsett, who represents part of Detroit in Michigan's House of Representatives, spoke of her experience with hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 on Fox News.

"For me, it saved my life,” the lawmaker told Laura Ingraham Monday evening. “I only can go by what it is that I have gone through and what my story is, and I can't speak for anyone else. So that's not what I'm trying to do here. I'm only speaking for myself."

Rep. Whitsett’s recovery and hydroxychloroquine

State Rep. Whitsett recounted her experience with COVID-19 during her interview on “The Ingraham Angle.” Like many around the country, it was difficult for Whitsett to consult with her doctor and obtain a test for the novel coronavirus. She did not meet with her doctor until March 18 and did not receive her test results until over a week later.

During that time, the lawmaker said that she was prescribed the antibiotic amoxicillin for a suspected case of pneumonia. By the time she received her test her COVID-19 test results, her health had “plummeted.”

"It went from the headaches being severe to fluid building up in my lungs, to sweats breaking out to the cough and my breathing being labored," Whitsett said. "It all happened in a matter of hours."

Such rapid declines in health have been widely reported in people with COVID-19. A recent study of critically ill patients in the Seattle area found that the lungs of such patients admitted to intensive care units deteriorated rapidly, even in young and otherwise healthy people.

To combat these effects, doctors have turned to a wide range of preexisting medicine and treatments to help COVID-19 patients, in the hopes that an already developed drug will prove effective against the virus.

Trump has specifically promoted hydroxychloroquine, an immunosuppressive drug mainly used as an anti-malarial medicine, as an effective treatment. Health experts, however, remain skeptical about both its safety and its effectiveness.

Whitsett said that while she was aware of Trump’s comments, "If President Trump had not talked about this it wouldn't have been something that would be accessible for anyone to be able to get right now.” Within a few hours of taking the drug, she said she was already in recovery.

But Whitsett said Trump's comments helped in her case.

"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."   

“Congratulations to State Representative Karen Whitsett of Michigan. So glad you are getting better!,” the president tweeted Monday with a link to a story by the Detroit Free Press.

The effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in fighting COVID-19 is hotly debated, with some experts in the president’s own administration being more cautious about the drug’s use. On Sunday, Trump interrupted Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as Fauci was asked by a journalist about the drug's effectiveness.

Our rating: True

Democratic Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett gave a testimonial about her experience with COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine on national television. While the representative acknowledges that there is no way to verify whether her recovery from COVID-19 was entirely due to the drug without further research, she credits Trump and the anti-malarial treatment for saving her. We rate this claim TRUE because it is supported by our research.

Our fact-check sources:

President Donald Trump points to ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl (off frame) during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020, in Washington, D.C.