Trump 'doing very well' during first night at Walter Reed hospital for Covid-19 treatment
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, who has Covid-19 and was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, is "doing very well" and has not required any supplemental oxygen, his physician said Friday night.
"This evening I am happy to report that the President is doing very well," the White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said in a statement. "He is not requiring any supplemental oxygen, but in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate Remdesivir therapy."
Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral therapy. Trump completed his first dose and was resting comfortably, Conley said in the statement, which was tweeted by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Trump also tweeted Friday night: "Going well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!"
Trump arrived at Walter Reed on the presidential helicopter, Marine One, on Friday afternoon as a precautionary measure and will remain there for several days, the White House said.
The move was recommended by the president's physician, McEnany said. He will work from the presidential offices there, she said.
He left the White House shortly after 6:15 p.m. ET and arrived at the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, minutes later.
Earlier, administration officials said Trump was experiencing "mild symptoms" after he announced early Friday that he had tested positive for the disease.
Trump, who regularly posts on Twitter, was silent on the social media platform after announcing his infection and ceded the only event on his official public schedule to Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump, who is 74 and clinically overweight, is at a higher risk of complications from the virus, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk of a severe illness increases with age and other factors, and other medical conditions can also increase risk, including obesity, according to the agency.
Trump weighs about 240 pounds and is about 6 feet, 3 inches tall, according to past health assessments made public in June. His physician has said he is healthy overall.
Pence, who tested negative Friday, remained at the vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, according to a senior administration official.
Presidential power has not been transferred to the vice president, White House communications director Alyssa Farah told NBC News.
"The president is in charge," she said.
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Marine One landed on the White House South Lawn shortly before 5:30 p.m. ET. A small group of senior White House staff members gathered outside for the departure. Trump, wearing a suit and a mask, was seen walking to the helicopter. He waved to reporters before boarding. Moments later, he was seen disembarking from the helicopter on the Walter Reed grounds. He was accompanied by chief of staff Mark Meadows and was not accompanied by the first lady.
In an 18-second video posted to Twitter moments after he touched down near the hospital, Trump said, "I think I'm doing very well, but we're going to make sure that things work out."
Three people familiar with his condition said earlier Friday that Trump had a low-grade fever. The president's doctor said that he was administered an antibody cocktail, along with vitamins, and that he is fatigued, while Melania Trump, who also tested positive, has a mild cough and a headache.
The experimental drug provided to the president, a combination of two so-called monoclonal antibodies, is meant to provide the body's immune system with a temporary but immediate boost to fight off the coronavirus.
Regeneron, which makes the drug, confirmed to NBC News that it provided it to the president under what is called "compassionate use," through which the Food and Drug Administration allows access to experimental drugs outside of clinical trials for patients with life-threatening conditions or serious diseases.
Trump has been holding re-election rallies around the country, some of them indoors. Most recently, he held a campaign rally attended by thousands of supporters in Duluth, Minnesota, and a private fundraiser in Shorewood, Minnesota, on Wednesday. The Duluth rally lasted only about 45 minutes in the cold, which is short for a typical Trump rally.
Several top White House officials and Republican lawmakers who have confirmed positive Covid-19 tests were also seen mingling with guests in the Rose Garden last Saturday when Trump officially nominated appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Many guests were not wearing masks and were not socially distancing.
Those who have tested positive who attended the event include the president and the first lady, as well as former senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said Friday in a letter to staff members that he had also tested positive for Covid-19 but that he felt "fine." He said he would be working from home and would "remain as involved as ever." It is unknown where or when any of the people who tested positive contracted the virus.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tested negative earlier Friday, his personal physician said. Biden said during a campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that Trump's positive test required the U.S. to take the virus seriously and to follow safely protocols rigorously.
"We need to take the science of fighting this disease seriously if we're going to save lives. And above all, the news is a reminder that we as a nation need to do better in dealing with this pandemic," Biden said after offering his prayers to the Trumps.
Biden, who shared a stage with Trump in Cleveland on Tuesday for the first presidential debate, said the moment called for putting politics aside and acknowledging the gravity of the virus — and for wearing a mask.
"These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have," said Biden, who never removed his blue surgical mask during his remarks.
A Biden campaign official said the campaign is pulling all of its negative advertising from its rotation of paid media. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh responded by accusing Biden of having "used his speech in Michigan today to attack President Trump."
Trump's handling of the pandemic has been a central point of the election, with his opponents criticizing his response. Trump, who has been accused of downplaying the risk and the severity of the pandemic, mocked Biden's regular use of masks during Tuesday's debate and defended his record on responding to the virus. Public health experts have said the mixed messaging hampered the country's response to the pandemic and even led to preventable deaths.
Biden and Trump, however, stood more than 12 feet away from each other during the debate, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates — well beyond the 6 feet recommended by the CDC.
But in a sign that safety measures at the debate, hosted by the Cleveland Clinic, may not have been airtight, at least 11 positive coronavirus tests can be traced to organizers of the debate, city officials said Friday.
The sole vice presidential debate, however, will proceed as planned in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband both tested negative Friday, aides to Harris said.
The president's diagnosis spurred grim chatter about what happens when a president is, for any reason, unable to carry out the duties of the office.
Under a provision of the Constitution, the vice president would become the acting president. The Presidential Succession Act dictates that if both the president and the vice president become incapacitated, the House speaker, currently Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, followed by the president pro tem of the Senate, currently Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, are next in line to serve as acting president.
Pelosi said she was not informed of Trump's planned movement to Walter Reed and had not had any further conversations about continuity-of-government planning with the White House in the intervening hours, according to a Democratic aide.
A spokesman for Grassley responded to questions about whether he had been notified of Trump's trip to Walter Reed by saying, "Generally, continuity-of-government briefings are not made public."
As of Friday night, there have been more than 7.3 million Covid-19 cases in the United States, with more than 209,000 deaths, according to NBC News' count.
Hallie Jackson, Shannon Pettypiece and Peter Alexander reported from Washington, Phil Helsel from Los Angeles and Adam Edelman and Dartunorro Clark from New York.