BETHESDA, Md. — President Donald Trump went through a “very concerning” period Friday and the next 48 hours “will be critical” in his care as he battles the coronavirus at a hospital, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Saturday.
Meadows’ comments stood in contrast to the rosy assessment of Trump’s condition offered by his staff and doctors, who took pains not to reveal the president had received supplemental oxygen at the White House before his hospital admission.
“We’re still not on a clear path yet to a full recovery,” said a weary Meadows.
It was a different picture than the one painted by the White House staff since Trump revealed his diagnosis as well as by his doctors, who updated the public at a press conference at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The briefing by Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley and other doctors raised questions as Conley repeatedly refused to say whether the president ever needed supplemental oxygen, despite repeated questioning, and declined to discuss exactly when he fell ill. Conley also revealed that Trump began exhibiting “clinical indications” of COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, earlier than previously known.
“Thursday no oxygen. None at this moment. And yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” Conley said.
But according to a person familiar with Trump’s condition, Trump was administered oxygen at the White House on Friday before he was transported to the military hospital. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
On Saturday, Conley said Trump’s blood oxygen level is 96%, which is in the normal range. The two experimental drugs he has received, given through an IV, have shown some promise against COVID-19. On Friday, he was given a single dose of a drug Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. is testing to supply antibodies to help his immune system fight the virus.
Friday night, he began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus and remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.
“We’re maximizing all aspects of his care,” attacking the virus in multiple ways, Conley said. “I didn’t want to hold anything back if there was any possibility it would add value to his care.”
Conley said Trump’s symptoms, including a cough and nasal congestion, “are now resolving and improving,” and said the president had been fever-free for 24 hours. But Trump also is taking aspirin, which lowers body temperature and could mask or mitigate that symptom.
“He’s in exceptionally good spirits,” said another doctor, Sean Dooley.
Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide and killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S.