Confusion over Trump’s Covid diagnosis and health

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President Donald Trump is doing “very well” after spending his first night in hospital since his Covid-19 diagnosis, his physician Dr Sean Conley says.

US President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departure from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 2, 2020, as he heads to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after testing positive for Covid-19.

Donald Trump is not on oxygen or having trouble breathing, doctors say. Photo: AFP

Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Friday and yesterday he was flown by helicopter from the White House to the Walter Reed Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland.

At the first medical briefing since he was admitted, Dr Conley said Trump’s medical team is “extremely happy with the progress the president has made”.

However, reports from the White House suggest the president is not yet on a clear path to recovery and that his condition in the past 24 hours has been very concerning.

Trump was brought into hospital yesterday as a “precautionary measure”, Dr Conley said.

White House physician Sean Conley gives an update on the condition of US President Donald Trump, on October 3, 2020, at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

White House physician Sean Conley gives an update on the condition of US President Donald Trump, at Walter Reed Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo: AFP

The medical team are “monitoring him very closely for any evidence of complications”.

“And the president this morning is not on oxygen, not having difficulty breathing or walking around the White House medical unit upstairs,” Dr Conley said.

One of the doctors said Trump told him: “I feel like I could walk out of here today.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (L) watches as US President Donald Trump (C) walks off Marine One while arriving at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 2, 2020.

President Donald Trump leaves Marine One to be admitted to the Walter Reed Medical Centre. Photo: AFP

He has been fever-free for over 24 hours. He’s receiving both the drug Remdesivir and an experimental treatment. They tackle different aspects of the disease, the doctors say.

Remdesivir has been shown to shorten the recovery time from the coronavirus. Trump will complete a five-day course of treatment, his doctors say.

They say they are “maximising all aspects of his care” and “don’t want to hold anything back”.

Next 48 hours critical

Confusion has arisen because soon after the doctors’ briefing, an official struck a very different tone to the gathered media.

The person said that Trump’s vital signs were “very concerning” over the past 24 hours, that the president is not yet on a path to recovery and the next 48 hours will be critical for him.

The assessment appears to contradict Trump’s physician, who earlier said the president was doing “very well” and was not on oxygen or having difficulty breathing.

Later the Associated Press named the official as White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows.

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Shortly afterwards, Meadows has cast the president’s condition in a different light, telling reporters that he is “doing very well” and that he had met with him on “multiple occasions” today, according to Reuters news agency.

“He is up and about and asking for documents to review,” Meadows reportedly said, adding that doctors were “very pleased” with his vital signs.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump's positive coronavirus test outside the West Wing of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC.

White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows has sparked some of the confusion surrounding President Donald Trump’s health. Photo: AFP

The president’s doctors have declined to say whether or not he has needed supplementary oxygen at some point. But the New York Times is reporting that oxygen was administered to Trump while he was still at the White House because he was having difficulty breathing.

Soon after the doctors’ briefing ended, Trump said on Twitter that he was feeling well with the help of the doctors and nurses at the hospital.

“Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!,” Trump said.

“Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!”

Questions also being raised over timing of diagnosis

Starting the briefing, Trump’s personal doctor said they had decided to move the president to the hospital out of caution.

“Just 72 hours into the diagnosis now, the first week of Covid – in particular days seven to 10 – are the most critical in determining the likely course of this illness,” Dr Sean Conley said.

But as BBC North American editor Jon Sopel pointed out on Twitter, Trump only confirmed his positive test early on Friday morning (US time) – roughly 36 hours ago.

After the briefing finished, a White House official said that Dr Conley meant to say it was day three of the president’s diagnosis rather than 72 hours.

Trump in ‘exceptionally good spirits’

Sean N Dooley, a pulmonologist also spoke during the briefing, saying: “We are monitoring [Trump] very closely for any evidence of complications from either the coronavirus illness or the therapies that we are prescribing to make him better. He is in exceptionally good spirits.”

President Trump asked doctors about the drug hydroxychloroquine, but is not taking it at this time, his doctors say. Early in the pandemic, he touted the medicine as a treatment for coronavirus – a recommendation not borne out by medical research.

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First Lady Melania Trump, who has also tested positive, remains at the White House and is not being treated at the Walter Reed military hospital.

She is “doing great”, the doctors say, and is “convalescing at home”.

Despite his diagnosis, President Trump is continuing to work from hospital, his doctors say. The presidential suite at the Walter Reed hospital is equipped with an office.

The doctors at the Walter Reed hospital are very upbeat about President Trump’s condition. However, they don’t know how long he’ll have to stay there.

“More than anything, he’s felt run down,” Dr Conley said.

Ex-governor who helped Trump with debate has Covid-19

Chris Christie apologised for the scandal.

Chris Christie Photo: AFP

Former Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie – who was among several people to help Donald Trump prepare for Tuesday’s debate against Joe Biden – says he has tested positive for Covid-19 and will receive medical attention.

Christie – who left the governorship in 2018 – said yesterday that he had no symptoms and felt “fine”. An earlier test on Tuesday was negative, he said.

Yesterday he told US media that no one had been wearing masks when he and others sat down with Trump to prepare for Tuesday’s televised debate.

“No one was wearing masks in the room when we were prepping the president during that period of time. And the group was about five or six people, in total,” he said.

Those present reportedly include Trump, his aide Hope Hicks and his campaign manager Bill Stepien – who have all tested positive – as well as his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and adviser Stephen Miller.

Meanwhile, a crowded Rose Garden event at the White House is now regarded as a possible super-spreader of the virus. The ceremony hosted by Trump was to announce his choice of the conservative Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.

Seven people who attended are now confirmed to have the virus – although it is unclear exactly where and when they caught it. Aside from the president and the First Lady they are: Trump’s former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway; two senators, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis; a university president, John Jenkins and an unnamed journalist.

US Senate postpones some of its work

The US Senate will postpone its work in full session until 19 October, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said. Three senators have now tested positive for the coronavirus in the past few days.

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However, McConnell said the work of the Senate Judiciary Committee would continue. The committee will be examining the nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a favourite with conservatives, who has raised alarm among progressives for her opposition to abortion rights.

Two of the infected senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, both Republicans, are members of the committee.

The full Senate had been discussing a relief package of coronavirus aid to help Americans who’ve lost their jobs or are suffering economically during the pandemic. The postponement also means there’ll be no agreement on measures until the second half of October at the earliest.

-BBC

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