Many questions about the president’s condition — and the administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak within its own orbit — remain unanswered as the White House offers contradictory information about the status of his health.
The White House has thus far painted an incomplete picture of the situation that required Trump to be admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday. They gave notice that Trump has begun a steroid treatment usually reserved for patients with severe illness and that he’s suffered twice from bouts of low oxygen. Yet Trump and his medical team contend that he is doing well and could be discharged from Walter Reed as soon as Monday.
Piling onto the confusion: Trump defied public health guidelines and briefly left the hospital to wave at his supporters from a motorcade parade to visit his supporters. Trump’s impromptu breach of quarantine, derided as cavalier by doctors and Secret Service, underscored open questions about the current health of the moderately obese 74 year-old who is being treated with a range of experimental therapeutics.
An admission by White House doctor Sean Conley is fueling criticism of a lack of transparency: “Trump’s medical team tried to clear up the muddled picture it had created the previous day when White House doctor Sean Conley falsely suggested that Trump had not been given supplemental oxygen … Conley openly admitted to withholding truthful information about Trump’s plummeting blood-oxygen levels Friday, indicating he did so to put a positive spin on the president’s improving condition,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Amy Goldstein report.
- The reasoning: “I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness, has had,” Conley said Sunday. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”
- Zooming out: “The episode continued what has been a days-long torrent of falsehoods, obfuscation, evasion, misdirection and imprecision from those surrounding Trump as he faces the greatest threat to a president’s health in decades.”
The confusion has penetrated the halls of the White House, too: Not even Trump administration staffers trust what they’re hearing about the state of Trump’s health, despite being potentially exposed to the virus as well.
THE NEXT CLUE: Whether Trump is actually released today.
- “For a coronavirus patient admitted Friday to be sent home Monday ‘would be remarkably atypical,” Robert Wachter, chairman of the University of California at San Francisco’s department of medicine, told Toluse, Josh and Amy. “For someone sick enough to have required remdesivir and dexamethasone, I can’t think of a situation in which a patient would be okay to leave on day three, even with the White House’s medical capacity.”
- Many infectious-disease experts say the medical details release suggest a more severe case of covid-19 than his physicians acknowledged, per the New York Times’s Katie Thomas and Roni Caryn Rabin: