President Trump’s doctors said Saturday that he was “doing very well” as he continues to be treated at Walter Reed Medical Center after displaying symptoms for COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon and testing positive for the disease later that night.
But some of the answers — and the questions that were not answered — left reporters puzzled.
“This morning the president is doing very well,” Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s personal physician, said at a press conference outside Walter Reed. Yet Conley added that it was still too early to assume that Trump was out of danger. “Just 72 hours into the diagnosis now. The first week of COVID and in particular days seven to 10 are the most critical in determining the likely course of this illness.”
That would imply Trump was diagnosed around noon on Wednesday — a day and a half before the White House announced the results of his positive test for the virus and a full day before Trump flew on Air Force One to a fundraiser at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J.
A White House official later tried to clarify Conley’s remarks, saying he intended to put the timeline at “Day 3,” counting from Thursday evening, rather than “72 hours.”
Conley said that on Thursday, the day of the fundraiser, Trump had a “mild cough and some nasal congestion, fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.”
Trump was given a test for the virus that afternoon and the positive results came back later that night.
Trump was admitted to Walter Reed on Friday afternoon.
Dr. Sean Dooley, another member of the team of doctors treating Trump, said the president had remarked to staff that he felt “like I could walk out of here today.”
“That was a very encouraging comment from the president,” Dooley said.
But shortly after the press conference concluded, the White House pool report painted a much darker picture.
“The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” a source “familiar with the president’s health” told reporters. “We are still not on a path to a full recovery.”
That source, it turned out, may in fact have been none other than White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
UPDATE: Immediately after the press conference ended and before the anonymous statement was sent out, Mark Meadows briefed reporters without cameras—but he was caught on a feed asking to be off the record. pic.twitter.com/JyrhSmu1Y0
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) October 3, 2020
Taking questions from reporters, Conley said that the president’s blood oxygen level was 96 percent, a normal reading, and his blood pressure was also normal. But he would not clarify whether Trump had received oxygen since being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“He’s not on oxygen right now, that is right,” Conley said.
“He has not received any at all?” a reporter pressed the doctor.
“He has not needed any this morning, today at all. That’s right.” Conley answered.
But Conley’s answers on the question of whether doctors had given Trump oxygen also sounded oddly specific.
“Thursday no oxygen. None at this moment. And yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” he said.
Trump did receive supplemental oxygen at the White House on Friday, the Associated Press, citing another unnamed source, reported following the press conference, because he experienced difficulty breathing.
Since being admitted, Trump has begun a five-day course of Remdesivir as well as an antibody therapy. Conley said that Trump had inquired about taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump has touted as a “miracle” cure but has not been approved for use against COVID-19.
“We discussed it. He asked about it. He’s not on it now,” Conley said.
Asked when he might be discharged, Conley hedged.
“I don’t want to put a hard date on that,” he said.
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