BETHESDA, Md. — President Donald Trump went through a “very concerning” period Friday and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care as he battles the coronavirus at a military hospital, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Saturday.
The comments came after it was revealed that Trump was administered supplemental oxygen Friday morning at the White House before he was transported to the hospital, although staff insisted he had only mild symptoms.
Trump's doctors, for their part, painted a rosy picture of the president’s health in a press conference at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. But the briefing by Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley and other doctors raised more questions than it answered.
Conley left murky the issue of whether the president needed supplemental oxygen and declined to discuss exactly when he fell ill. Conley also revealed that Trump began exhibiting “clinical indications” of COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, earlier than previously known.
According to a person familiar with Trump’s condition, Trump was administered oxygen at the White House on Friday before he was transported to the military hospital. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity,
Conley also said the president was “72 hours into his diagnosis,” which raised questions about the timeline provided by the White House, given that Trump first tweeted about his positive test early Friday morning. Conley released a statement later Saturday saying that he meant the president was on “day three” of his illness and Trump's initial positive test came late Thursday night.
Conley, updating the nation on the president’s condition from Walter Reed on Saturday afternoon, said Trump had been fever-free for 24 hours.
While Conley said the president was not currently on oxygen, he refused to say whether the president had ever been on oxygen, despite repeated questioning.
“Thursday no oxygen. None at this moment. And yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” Conley said. He said that Trump’s symptoms, including a cough and nasal congestion “are now resolving and improving.”
“He’s in exceptionally good spirits,” said another doctor, Sean Dooley.
Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide and killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S.
The administration has consistently been less than transparent about the president’s health as the virus spread inside the White House. Aides declined to share basic health information about the president, including a full accounting of his symptoms, what tests he’s undertaken and the results. The first word that a close aide to Trump had been infected came from the media, not the White House.
In a memo released late Friday, Conley did report that Trump had been treated at the hospital with remdesivir, an antiviral medication, after taking another experimental drug at the White House. He added that Trump is “doing very well” and is “not requiring any supplemental oxygen.”
Conley declined to say when Trump had last been tested before he was confirmed to have COVID-19 late Thursday. He initially suggested that Trump was 72 hours into the diagnosis, putting the confirmation of the infection to Wednesday. Conley later clarified that Trump was administered an accurate test for the virus on Thursday afternoon, after White House aide Hope Hicks was confirmed to be positive and Trump exhibited unspecified “clinical indications” of the virus.
The White House said Trump was expected to stay at the hospital for “a few days” and he would continue to work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to keep up his official duties. In addition to accessibility to tests and equipment, the decision was made, at least in part, with the understanding that moving him to the hospital later, if he took a turn for the worse, could send a worrying signal.
On Saturday, Conley said Trump’s blood oxygen level is 96%, which is in the normal range. The two experimental drugs he has received, given through an IV, have shown some promise against COVID-19. On Friday, he was given a single dose of a drug Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. is testing to supply antibodies to help his immune system fight the virus.
Friday night, he began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways -- the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus and remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.
“We’re maximizing all aspects of his care,” attacking the virus in multiple ways, Conley said. “I didn’t want to hold anything back if there was any possibility it would add value to his care.”
Trump campaign to continue with Pence on trail in Arizona
With COVID-19 putting President Donald Trump at least temporarily in a hospital, his re-election campaign has announced that Vice President Mike Pence will make a campaign stop in a Phoenix suburb on Thursday.
The announcement of Pence's planned Arizona stop followed Trump's cancellation of multiple planned campaign stops after he contracted COVID-19. Those included Arizona rallies that were scheduled in the coming week in Tucson and Flagstaff.
The vice presidential debate between Pence and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris is still set for Wednesday. The Commission on Presidential Debates and both campaigns agreed Friday to increase the space between Pence and Harris on the debate stage from seven to 12 feet.
Pence again tested negative for the virus, an administration official said Saturday.
GOP seeks to pause Senate work, but not Barrett hearings
Republicans on Saturday sought to call off legislative work in the Senate until Oct. 19 as the coronavirus reached into their ranks. But they vowed that hearings for Trump's Supreme Court nominee would push ahead as planned even as lawmakers increasingly demanded testing for everyone on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett will still begin Oct. 12, even if Democrats agree to cancel the regular Senate session to avoid further spread of COVID-19. Since Friday morning, three GOP senators have announced they have tested positive.
“The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair and historically supported confirmation process,” the Kentucky Republican wrote. Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who is running for reelection in South Carolina, added that senators can attend the hearings virtually.
But Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer took aim at that plan, saying that if the COVID threat is too great for Senate sessions, it makes Barrett's confirmation perilous, too.
The Republicans’ “monomaniacal drive to confirm Judge Barrett at all costs needlessly threatens the health and safety of Senators, staff, and all those who work in the Capitol complex,” Schumer said in a statement.
Chris Christie tests positive for coronavirus
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helped President Donald Trump prepare for the first presidential debate earlier this week, has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced on Twitter Saturday.
"I just received word that I am positive for COVID-19," Christie wrote. "I want to thank all of my friends and colleagues who have reached out to ask how I was feeling in the last day or two. I will be receiving medical attention today and will keep the necessary folks apprised of my condition."
Christie was among a group of senior Trump campaign staffers who were tested Friday following news of the President's positive diagnosis.
No course correction for state Republicans after Trump's illness
Republican governors and lawmakers in many states have followed President Donald Trump’s lead on their response to the coronavirus, declining to impose mask mandates and pushing to lift restrictions on businesses and social gatherings as swiftly as possible.
Revelations that the president and first lady are now among those who have tested positive for the disease appeared to do little to change their thinking.
In the hours after the nation learned that Trump had tested positive for the virus, Republican-controlled courts, conservative groups and Republican lawmakers continued to move against mask mandates and other coronavirus restrictions.
These are the world leaders who have tested positive for COVID-19
Photos: A look at Trump's busy week leading up to positive coronavirus test
Saturday: Trump announces Supreme Court pick
Saturday: Supreme Court announcement and gathering
Saturday: Trump holds rally in Middletown, Pa.
Sunday: Trump holds news conference
Monday: Lordstown Motors event at White House
Monday: Rose Garden event on coronavirus
Tuesday: Trump debates Biden in Cleveland
Tuesday: Trump's adult children attend debate without masks
Wednesday: Trump travels to Minnesota
Wednesday: Hope Hicks feels unwell on Minnesota trip
Wednesday: Trump holds rally in Duluth, Minnesota
Thursday: Hope Hicks tests positive for coronavirus
Thursday: Trump travels to Bedminster, N.J., for fundraiser
Friday: Trump, first lady test positive for coronavirus
Friday: Trump's physician releases statement
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