Medics lined up in white coats insisted that Trump, who was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday night after being diagnosed with Covid-19, was doing “very well” and “he there is no reason for concern ”.
But moments later, confusion reigned and fears for the president increased when it emerged that a separate, unnamed briefing had been given to the journalists in the pool tasked with covering the president, and it was less optimistic. .
“The President’s vital signs over the past 24 hours were of great concern and the next 48 hours will be critical for his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery, ”the source said, according to the White House press pool.
He raised concerns that the president’s condition was worse than initially thought and that the public is being misled.
Sean Conley, the president’s personal physician, who led the official medical briefing outside of the hospital, was evasive as to whether Trump had ever received oxygen following his coronavirus diagnosis this week .
And Conley was reluctant to provide more details on the president’s symptoms and the timing of his illness, including the extent of his fever and the virus’s effects on the 74-year-old’s body.
He said Trump had not been on oxygen while he was with his team, but would not answer direct questions on Friday. The Associated Press news agency later reported via an anonymous source that the president received supplemental oxygen while still in the White House, before being admitted to hospital.
In contrast, when asked about reports that Trump had had difficulty breathing, Conley was unequivocal in saying that “he hasn’t and never has.”
Equally puzzling was Conley’s initial claim that Trump had been first diagnosed 72 hours previously, suggesting Trump tested positive on Wednesday, before heading to public campaign events in Minnesota and New Jersey . But a little later, the White House sought to clarify by saying that Conley meant it was now the third day since the diagnosis, and that Trump had been diagnosed Thursday night.
Meanwhile, as the clock ticked in the November 3 presidential election, Trump’s admission to the hospital threw an already tumultuous re-election campaign into further disarray.
Several senior campaign officials and Republican figures including campaign manager Bill Stepien, three US senators and former White House lawyer Kellyanne Conway have also been confirmed to have contracted Covid-19. Although the time, location and source of the infections have not been confirmed, they witnessed an event increasingly seen as a possible “super-broadcaster” – the White House announcement on Saturday night of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be Trump’s last Supreme court candidate.
More than 100 prominent Republicans gathered without masks inside the White House and outside in the Rose Garden during the event.
The president’s sudden quarantine and his campaign manager’s diagnosis immediately put his re-election campaign in check as Democratic candidate Joe Biden continued with a speech in Michigan – while wearing a mask – after being tested negative for Covid on Friday.
Biden’s campaign announced on Saturday that it would suspend “negative” campaign ads criticizing Trump.
Conley, the president’s doctor, insisted on Saturday that Trump had made progress, was “very well” and had received an experimental antibody and had started treatment with the antiviral drug, remdesivir.
“He’s not on oxygen right now,” Conley said. “All the indicators indicate that he will remain without oxygen in the future. Right now the team and I are extremely happy with the progress he’s made. We remain cautiously optimistic but he is doing very well.
Conley admitted, however, that the treatment program was in its early stages and that the worst effect of the coronavirus in a patient may not manifest for seven to 10 days.
Meanwhile, First Lady Melania Trump remains in the White House and shows only minor symptoms after being diagnosed with coronavirus alongside the president, according to his own social media.
Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, and Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and adviser to Trump, also contracted the disease.
Mike Pence, the vice president, who will take over the levers of government if Trump dies or becomes unfit, announced on Saturday that he had tested negative for coronavirus for a second day. He is not in quarantine, even though he was front row at the Barrett event at the Rose Garden of the White House last weekend.
“This is a code red moment for the US government,” political analyst Samantha Vinograd, an adviser at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute, which is not affiliated with the Biden campaign, said in a statement. analysis for CNN.
“There is a global message that the White House would not or could not do what is necessary to protect its own staff and the president… [and a] a strong rhetoric that the White House will not or cannot do what is necessary to protect Americans.
Additional reporting by Tom Lutz and Emily Holden.