Doctors only gave good news the day after the COVID-positive president was admitted to Walter Reed medical center, telling reporters that Donald Trump doesn’t have a fever and is doing well.
The medical staff, led by Dr. Sean Conley, expressed cautious optimism on the commander-in-chief’s condition. “At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” Conley said at the hospital. “Thursday, he had a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.”
The patient’s own assessment? “I feel like I could walk out of here today,” Trump told his physicians. But the president is not likely to leave anytime soon, as the illness can become critical by the 10th day of the infection, noted Conley, adding that he wouldn’t discuss any detailed plans for discharging the president.
Voting in the 2020 presidential election, meanwhile, culminates in 31 days. And while the president recovers in private, former Vice President Joe Biden is on the campaign trail trying to add to his lead in the polls.
It was the first medical briefing given since Trump boarded Marine One for the hospital Friday evening. Of particular concern was whether the president has had trouble breathing, since the illness is known to attack the lungs. “”No,” Conley said when asked. “No, he has not. Never did. He had a little cough. He had the fever. More than anything, he’s felt run down.”
Conley also noted an encouraging sign, namely that for the last 24 hours the president has remained fever-free. An attending pulmonologist, Dr. Sean Dooley, added that Trump’s liver and kidney and heart functions remain normal.
Pressed twice on whether Trump had received oxygen, the president’s physician would only say that he was not on it currently and that “all indicators are that that he’ll remain off of oxygen going forward.”
Several members of the president’s inner circle, including many who helped prepare him for last Tuesday debate, have recently become ill with the virus. Top adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday after accompanying the president to a campaign rally in Minnesota. Trump still flew to a fundraiser that same day in New Jersey.
He now confronts the virus on two fronts — as both a public and personal health challenge. His critics complain that he downplayed the pandemic for months, refusing to wear a mask in public as recommended by experts, mocking those following that guidance, and hosting massive rallies where social distancing was impossible.
His medical staff announced that the president took Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail along with zinc, vitamin D, melatonin and aspirin to combat the illness. Another drug, Remdesivir, was also administered.
“Remdesivir works a little bit differently than the antibodies. We’re maximizing all aspects of his care, attacking this virus [with a] multipronged approach,” Conley told reporters. “As the president, I didn’t want to hold anything back. If there was any possibility that it would add value to his care and expedite his return, then I wanted to take it.”
Another member of the team, Dr. Brian Garibaldi, noted that the Remdesivir was administered Friday evening. The doctors’ orders for the president today? Eat, drink, and remain hydrated as he continues his duties.
The move from the White House to Walter Reed, the physicians said, was done out of an abundance of caution, not because his condition had deteriorated. Pushed to explain that extra step, Conley replied dryly, “Because he is the president of the United States.”
Since the president and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus, Trump has been out of the spotlight. His famed Twitter account has been mostly silent, a rarity for the social media-obsessed executive. But shortly after the press conference ended, Trump tweeted a message with his own style of punctuation and capitalization.
“Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!,” he wrote. “Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!”
For more than 10 minutes outside the hospital, the president’s medical team spoke on the record and took questions. Their topline: “The president is doing very well.”
After the press conference ended though, an anonymous source told the White House pool reporters on the scene, “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”