Coronavirus: Trump reports 'no symptoms' despite breathing heavily at photo op

Griffin Connolly
Donald Trump has signaled optimism after his return to the White House while dealing with an ongoing Covid-19 diagnosis. (Getty Images)
Donald Trump has signaled optimism after his return to the White House while dealing with an ongoing Covid-19 diagnosis. (Getty Images)

Donald Trump “continues to do extremely well” and reported “no symptoms” on Tuesday, his physician said in an internal White House memo shared with the press.

That report comes despite the president appearing breathless less than 24 hours earlier as he posed for photographs on his return to the White House on Monday after spending three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“This morning the President’s team of physicians met with him in the Residence,” Sean Conley, the president’s personal physician from the US Navy, wrote in the memo.

“He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms. Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97%. Overall he continues to do extremely well. I will provide updates as we know more,” Dr Conley wrote.

Dr Conley released the information about Mr Trump’s condition with the express permission of the president, he wrote in the memo dated 6 October.

The physician has been circumspect about Mr Trump’s illness since the announcement last week that he had caught Covid-19, much to the frustration of the White House press corps.

Dr Conley and the White House team have given a conflicting timeline of the president’s initial diagnosis, although they have said he began to feel unwell last Thursday. Mr Trump received his official diagnosis “72 hours ago,” Dr Conley said on Saturday, meaning the president may have tested positive as early as Wednesday.

The president’s doctors and press shop has not said when Mr Trump last tested negative, leading observers to question whether they were really testing him as regularly and as diligently as they had been saying.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has criticised Mr Trump’s decision to return to the White House on Monday after just three nights in hospital, condemning his maskless appearance on the Truman Balcony as “macho” and lacking in consideration of a virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

“Be patriotic, for God's sake,” the the former vice president said during an NBC News town hall with Lester Holt, adding that anyone refusing to wear a mask was “responsible for what happens to them.”

Earlier on Monday, Mr Biden, a Roman Catholic, had said he was offering his continued “prayers” for Mr Trump’s and First Lady Melania Trump’s recoveries from their Covid-19 diagnoses.

But he also admonished the president to “listen to the scientists” and “support masks” to help stem the tide of coronavirus in the US.

I, like so many American families who are dealing with Covid-19, was glad to see the president speaking and recording videos over the weekend,” Mr Biden said.

“Now that he's busy tweeting campaign messages, I would ask him to do this: listen to the scientists. Support [wearing] masks. Support mandates nationwide. Require masks in every federal building facility and [in] interstate travel. Urge every governor to do the same. We know it saves lives,” Mr Biden said.

Mr Trump, his campaign team, and several GOP lawmakers, however, have done largely the opposite, championing the president as an individual warrior for defeating a virus his own doctor has said is still in his system and could infect other people who are around him.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!” the president wrote on his Twitter account on Monday, despite the fact he was given multiple experimental treatments many Americans don’t have access to and was being treated by a team of doctors in his own personal hospital wing.

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