United States President Donald Trump yesterday released a video saying that he was “starting to feel good,” after he tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.
But conflicting statements by his doctors and aides created immediately confusion. Trump, 74, who was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, has taken two doses of a five-day course of the intravenous antiviral drug Remdesivir, as well as the steroid dexamethasone, which is used in critical cases. His vice president Mike Pence yesterday tested negative again yesterday.
President Trump’s medical team acknowledged delivering an overly rosy description of the president’s illness on Saturday. “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,” Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, said in a briefing with reporters yesterday.
The doctors said that Trump had a “high fever” on Friday, and that there had been two incidents when his oxygen levels dropped, one on Friday and one on Saturday. They said Trump received oxygen at the White House on Friday; they were not clear about whether it was administered again on Saturday.
Trump spent much of the year downplaying the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected 7.4 million Americans, killed more than 209,000, and caused an economic downturn that has thrown millions out of work.
Medical experts said that despite the relatively upbeat tone of the news conference yesterday, the details of his treatment and the fact that his oxygen levels have been dropping showed that the illness has progressed beyond a mild case of Covid-19.
Trump’s oxygen levels dropped to 93 percent at one point, his doctors said; that is below the 95 percent level that is considered the lower limit of the normal range. Many medical experts consider patients to have severe Covid-19 if their oxygen levels drop below 94 percent.
“This is no longer aspirationally positive,” said Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. “And it’s much more than just an ‘abundance of caution’ kind of thing.”