Trump’s alternate reality of Covid-19 crumbles as the White House sends mixed messages about President’s health

Some seven months into a pandemic that has killed more than 209,000 Americans, the nation is now facing a grave governing crisis with its commander in chief hospitalized — his condition hinging on his progress over the coming days — as the White House events of the past week serve as a textbook example of how not to handle a deadly virus.



a man talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Late Saturday night, the public learned new details about why President Donald Trump was airlifted to the hospital Friday, when chief of staff Mark Meadows said during an interview with Fox News that Trump had a fever on Friday morning and his oxygen level had “dropped rapidly.” Meadows added that Trump has made “unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning.”

A memo from Trump’s physician earlier Saturday night said that Trump had “made substantial progress” since his diagnosis but “is not yet out of the woods.”

Speaking from a White House that already has a huge credibility problem with the public, Meadows’ statement capped a 24-hour period that served as a master class in opacity and contradiction that raised major questions about the President’s health — and renewed questions about this administration’s ability to tell the truth.

Trump has been watching and critiquing coverage of his hospitalization from the presidential suite at Walter Reed and has been agitated at what he claims are exaggerated descriptions of his condition, people familiar with the matter said.

Those people told CNN that Trump seemed particularly upset when he saw a quote saying he was displaying “concerning” symptoms on Friday attributed to a person familiar with his health but later assigned by the New York Times and Associated Press to Meadows.

The comment about the President’s vitals hinted that his condition was more worrisome than his doctors let on. But the President’s aversion to appearing weak and sick is now what is driving the effort to project resolve, including a video he tweeted from Walter Reed on Saturday, the photos released by the White House of him working and the multiple accounts of phone calls where he sounded strong by his allies and family members.

For much of this year, Trump has spun an alternate reality about the dangers of coronavirus — disputing science and the efficacy of masks, downplaying the risks to the American people, and making false statements about how 99% of coronavirus cases in America are “totally harmless” or that the virus “affects virtually nobody.”

He encouraged his aides and advisers to live in that dangerous fantasy land, pushing his luck to the limits as late as this past week when he again recklessly gathered thousands of unmasked Americans at his political

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Donald Trump’s alternate reality of Covid-19 crumbles as the White House sends mixed messages about President’s health

Some seven months into a pandemic that has killed more than 209,000 Americans, the nation is now facing a grave governing crisis with its commander in chief hospitalized — his condition hinging on his progress over the coming days — as the White House events of the past week serve as a textbook example of how not to handle a deadly virus.



a man talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Late Saturday night, the public learned new details about why President Donald Trump was airlifted to the hospital Friday, when chief of staff Mark Meadows said during an interview with Fox News that Trump had a fever on Friday morning and his oxygen level had “dropped rapidly.” Meadows added that Trump has made “unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning.”

A memo from Trump’s physician earlier Saturday night said that Trump had “made substantial progress” since his diagnosis but “is not yet out of the woods.”

Speaking from a White House that already has a huge credibility problem with the public, Meadows’ statement capped a 24-hour period that served as a master class in opacity and contradiction that raised major questions about the President’s health — and renewed questions about this administration’s ability to tell the truth.

Trump has been watching and critiquing coverage of his hospitalization from the presidential suite at Walter Reed and has been agitated at what he claims are exaggerated descriptions of his condition, people familiar with the matter said.

Those people told CNN that Trump seemed particularly upset when he saw a quote saying he was displaying “concerning” symptoms on Friday attributed to a person familiar with his health but later assigned by the New York Times and Associated Press to Meadows.

The comment about the President’s vitals hinted that his condition was more worrisome than his doctors let on. But the President’s aversion to appearing weak and sick is now what is driving the effort to project resolve, including a video he tweeted from Walter Reed on Saturday, the photos released by the White House of him working and the multiple accounts of phone calls where he sounded strong by his allies and family members.

For much of this year, Trump has spun an alternate reality about the dangers of coronavirus — disputing science and the efficacy of masks, downplaying the risks to the American people, and making false statements about how 99% of coronavirus cases in America are “totally harmless” or that the virus “affects virtually nobody.”

He encouraged his aides and advisers to live in that dangerous fantasy land, pushing his luck to the limits as late as this past week when he again recklessly gathered thousands of unmasked Americans at his political

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Donald Trump’s alternate reality of Covid-19 crumbles as the White House obfuscates

Some seven months into a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, the nation is now facing a grave governing crisis with its commander in chief hospitalized — his condition hinging on his progress over the coming days — as the White House events of the past week serve as a textbook example of how not to handle a deadly virus.



a man talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Late Saturday night, the public learned new details about why President Donald Trump was airlifted to the hospital Friday, when chief of staff Mark Meadows said during an interview with Fox News that Trump had a fever on Friday morning and his oxygen level had “dropped rapidly.” Meadows added that Trump has made “unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning.”

A memo from Trump’s physician earlier Saturday night said that Trump had “made substantial progress” since his diagnosis but “is not yet out of the woods.”

Speaking from a White House that already has a huge credibility problem with the public, Meadows’ statement capped a 24-hour period that served as a master class in opacity and contradiction that raised major questions about the President’s health — and renewed questions about this administration’s ability to tell the truth.

The President became furious at Meadows earlier in the day, according to reporting Saturday night by the New York Times, when the chief of staff gave a statement to the press pool as an unnamed official stating that the President’s vitals Friday were “very concerning,” hinting that his condition was more worrisome than his doctors let on.

For much of this year, Trump has spun an alternate reality about the dangers of coronavirus — disputing science and the efficacy of masks, downplaying the risks to the American people, and making false statements about how 99% of coronavirus cases in America are “totally harmless” or that the virus “affects virtually nobody.”

He encouraged his aides and advisers to live in that dangerous fantasy land, pushing his luck to the limits as late as this past week when he again recklessly gathered thousands of unmasked Americans at his political rallies and packed the top officials in government into a Rose Garden ceremony for his Supreme Court nominee. All the while, White House officials embraced the fallacy that administering rapid coronavirus tests frequently at the White House could provide a shield of immunity.

The President’s construct crumbled Friday when he was airlifted to Walter Reed after contracting the virus, while many aides, advisers and allies were testing positive for Covid-19 after interacting with him over the past week.

The White House seemed to be continuing to downplay concerns about the severity of the virus Saturday morning when

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White House reportedly pushed CDC hard to fall in line on sending kids to school, sought alternate safety data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began working in early summer on guidance for sending children back to school, and the White House then “spent weeks trying to press public health professionals to fall in line with President Trump’s election-year agenda of pushing to reopen schools and the economy as quickly as possible,” The New York Times reported Monday night, citing documents and interviews with current and former government officials.

This “strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic” included searching for “alternate data” that suggested children were at little or no risk from the coronavirus, the Times reports, and trying to swap in guidance from a little-known Health and Human Services Department agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA was focused on the emotional and mental health toll remote school could have on children, but CDC scientists found multiple problems with the agency’s assertion that COVID-19 posed a low health and transmission risk for children. That’s the language the White House was most interested in, though, and throughout the summer the CDC won some battles and lost others trying to keep it out of public guidance, the Times documents.

Olivia Troye, one of Vice President Mike Pence’s envoys on the White House coronavirus task force until leaving the administration in July, told the Times she regrets being “complicit” in the effort to pressure the CDC to make children look safer than the data supported. She said when she tried to shield the CDC, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, charged “more junior staff” to “develop charts” for White House briefings.

In early July, several prominent medical groups, including the American Association of Pediatrics, advised sending kids back to school with stringent safety measures, in part because the data at the time suggested lower risk for kids. “More recently, data compiled by the academy from recent months shows that hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have increased at a faster rate in children and teenagers than among the general public,” the Times reports. Read more at The New York Times.

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