Trump is ‘furious’ with Mark Meadows for contradicting his physician’s optimistic COVID briefing
President Trump is ‘furious’ at chief of staff Mark Meadows after he contradicted a more optimistic health assessment from the president’s doctor on Saturday, according to reports.
Meadows appeared overwhelmed on Sunday as he sat, head drooped over and hands rubbing his forehead, while Navy Commander Sean Conley spoke to media about Trump’s COVID-19 prognosis.
Two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN that Trump was outraged upon learning that Meadows was the previously unnamed official who leaked a concerning update about his progress.
‘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 are still not on a clear path to a full recovery,’ Meadows told a reporter on background.
Meadows rubbed his forehead Sunday (left and right) as Dr. Conley spoke to reporters outside Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, after it was revealed the chief of staff told reporters President’s Trump’s health was ‘concerning’
Sources told CNN that President Trump (pictured) was ‘furious’ at Mark Meadows for contradicting his physician’s more optimistic assessment of his COVID-19 prognosis
The reporting was initially attributed to an official familiar with Trump’s current condition, but the Associated Press and New York Times later identified the source as Meadows.
Meadows’ revelation directly countered the assessment provided by Conley, who declared the Commander-in-Chief was ‘in exceptionally good spirits’ and ‘doing well.’
A White House official told CNN that Trump is upset over the mixed messaging regarding his health, and that Trump advisers viewed Meadows’ indiscretion as a crushing blow to the health briefings’ credibility.
In response, a senior Republican criticized Meadows and downplayed his knowledge of the president’s health.
‘Anyone taking medical/psychological advice from the chief of staff or his communications team should have their head examined,’ the senior Republican told DailyMail.com.
‘It is being handled badly,’ the person continued, ‘whether the president is fit as a fiddle or on his deathbed.’
Meadows (center) previously told reporters that Trump’ ‘vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery’
Meadows attempted to backtrack on his previous comments during a Fox News interview on Sunday, in which he said Trump had undergone ‘unbelievable improvement.’ He also acknowledged that Trump’s blood oxygen level had ‘dropped rapidly.’
The Trump administration has appeared to counter the contradicting reports by having the president release a video on Saturday.
‘I just want to tell you that I’m starting to feel good,’ Trump proclaimed to his 86 million Twitter followers.
‘You don’t know over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test. So, we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.’
On Sunday, the president’s doctors said that he could be discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center as early as Monday as Trump’s top physician detailed he was given a steroid and put on oxygen as a treatment for COVID-19.
‘Our plan for today is to have him to eat and drink, be up out of bed as much as possible, to be mobile,’ Dr. Brian Garibaldi, one of the doctor’s on Trump’s team, said. ‘And if he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House where he can continue his treatment course.’
He also detailed that Trump would continue taking doses of Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral medication, and dexamethasone, a steroid, whether he remains at Walter Reed or is transferred to the White House.
Pressed about the conflicting information he and the White House released the previous day, the president’s top doctor, Conley, acknowledged that he had tried to present a rosy description of the president’s condition.
Physician to the President Dr. Sean Conley, a Navy Commander, was forced to explain during the briefing Sunday that there was some confusion over Trump’s condition because Chief of Staff Mark Meadow’s comments were ‘misconstrued’
‘I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude of the team, that the president, that his course of illness has had. Didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,’ Conley said. ‘And in doing so, came off like we’re trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.’
Conley also deflected blame during the briefing, claiming there was some confusion over Trump’s condition because Meadow’s comments were misrepresented. ‘The Chief and I work side-by-side,’ Conley said of Meadows. ‘And I think his statement was misconstrued.’
‘What he meant was that 24 hours ago, when he and I were checking on the president, that there was that momentary episode of a high fever. And that temporary drop in the saturation, which prompted us to act expediently to move him up here,’ he said of the president’s swift movement from the White House to Walter Reed on Friday.
‘Fortunately that was a very transient, limited episode,’ he continued in a briefing with some press outside the hospital center. ‘A couple hours later he was back up, mild again. I’m not going to speculate what that limited episode was about so early in the course. But he’s doing well.’
Donald Trump’s doctors revealed Sunday that they treated the president with a steroid and put him on oxygen Saturday as they were concerned over the rapid progression of the virus
‘If he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House where he can continue his treatment course,’ Garibaldi said
The masked doctors gave their second update in two days on Trump’s condition as questions emerged over conflicting statements on how the disease and his treatment was progressing
Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday, paving the way for the vice president to take power should the president become incapacitated.
WHAT IS DEXAMETHASONE?
Oxford University researchers in June announced steroid drug dexamethasone — which costs just over $3 for a course of treatment — cut the risk of death by up to 35 per cent for infected patients on ventilators and by a fifth for anyone needing oxygen at any point.
Following the news World Health Organization (WHO) bosses said they will update its Covid-19 treatment guidance to include dexamethasone.
The WHO wrote: ‘It was tested in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in the United Kingdom’s national clinical trial RECOVERY and was found to have benefits for critically ill patients.
‘According to preliminary findings shared with WHO (and now available as a preprint), for patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth.’
It did not appear to help less ill patients.
Researchers estimated that the drug would prevent one death for every eight patients treated while on breathing machines and one for every 25 patients on extra oxygen alone.
The steroid drug is a type of anti-inflammatory medicine used to treat a wide-range of conditions.
It is given via an injection or once-a-day tablet and is sold under the brand names Ozurdex and Baycadron.
In coronavirus patients, the steroid reduces inflammation in the lungs triggered by an overreaction by the immune system.
One in 10 symptomatic Covid-19 patients are thought to suffer from the nasty symptom, known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS causes the immune system to become overactive and attack healthy cells in the lungs.
This makes breathing difficult and the body eventually struggles to get enough oxygen to vital organs.
Dexamethasone was first made in 1957 and was approved for medical use in 1961.
The steroid is also used to treat conditions that cause inflammation, conditions related to immune system activity, and hormone deficiency.
- allergic reactions
- rheumatoid arthritis
- flare-ups of intestinal disease, such as ulcerative colitis
- multiple sclerosis
- pre-treatment for chemotherapy to reduce inflammation and side effects from cancer medications
- adrenal insufficiency (a condition where the adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones)
Dexamethasone is known to cause a number of mild to moderate side effects, including vomiting, heartburn, anxiety, high blood pressure, muscle weakness and insomnia.
Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon, writing: ‘I really appreciate all of the fans and supporters outside of the hospital. The fact is, they really love our Country and are seeing how we are MAKING IT GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!’
Conley, a Navy Commander and physician to the president, revealed during the briefing that Trump was treated with the steroid dexamethasone after a drop in oxygen levels on Saturday.
‘Over the course of his illness, the president has experienced two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation. We debated the reasons for this and whether we’d even intervene. As a determination of the team, based predominantly on the timeline for the diagnosis, that we initiate dexamethasone,’ Conley said.
The physician then detailed the timeline of Trump’s treatment and the decision Friday to move him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center just hours after the president announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus.
‘Thursday night into Friday morning when I left the bedside, the president was doing well with only mild symptoms and his oxygen was in the high 90’s. Late Friday morning when I returned to the bedside, president had a high fever and his oxygen level was transiently dipping below 94 per cent,’ Conley said.
‘Given these two developments, I was concerned for possible rapid progression of the illness,’ he continued. ‘I recommended the president try some supplemental oxygen.’
Conley said Trump was ‘very adamant that he didn’t need it. Was not short of breath. He was tired, had the fever, and that was about it.’
He said after a minute of oxygen, Trump’s levels were back up above 95 per cent – but said that he kept the president’s on the measure for about an hour.
Conley explained that the president’s oxygen level did not dip into the 80’s and reiterated that he was up and about shortly after the ‘transient’ episode.
One doctor said Trump told them, ‘I feel like I could walk out of here today.’
In an update Saturday, Conley wrote: ‘This evening he completed his second dose of Remdesivir without complication. He remains fever-free and off supplemental oxygen with a saturation level between 96% and 98% all day.’
‘He spent most of the afternoon conducting business, and has been up and moving about the medical suite without difficulty. While not yet out of the woods, the team remains cautiously optimistic,’ the White House physician continued.
‘The plan for tomorrow is to continue observation in between doses of remdesivir, closely monitoring his clinical status while fully supporting his conduct of Presidential duties.’
Several hours later, Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere posted a picture showing Trump working into the night from the hospital.
The new comments from the president’s medical team on Sunday comes as Trump’s campaign advisers Stephen Miller and Steve Cortes claimed Sunday the president is eager to get back to campaigning even after Conley said Saturday he is not yet ‘out of the woods.’
Miller, the campaign’s senior adviser, said he spoke to Trump recently and said the president told him ‘he’s going to defeat this virus… and our campaign is going to defeat this virus.’
‘Once he gets out of the hospital, he’s ready to get back to the campaign trail,’ Miller told NBC’s Chuck Todd during an interview on ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday morning. ‘He sounded pretty energetic.’
‘But he said something else that I thought that was important too,’ Miller said, ‘and that was to be careful, and that was to remind folks to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, make sure that if you can’t socially distance, distance to wear a mask. And I thought that was a pretty important message to send and a reminder to the rest of the country.’
Cortes, another senior campaign adviser, reiterated the president’s fitness during an interview with Chris Wallace on ‘Fox News Sunday.’
‘He’s doing well,’ Cortes attested.
‘We spoke to the president yesterday, we meaning senior campaign staff,’ Cortes said. ‘He was as upbeat and assertive as he’s ever been.’
He added: ‘This president is going to recover, we are highly confident of that.’
Trump announced overnight Thursday via Twitter that he and first lady Melania tested positive for coronavirus as the two took a test following the revelation that Counselor to the President Hope Hicks received a positive diagnosis hours earlier.
How Mark Meadows infuriated Trump by telling reporters that his ‘vitals are very concerning’ in off-the-record health update
Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ revelation to reporters that Donald Trump’s ‘vitals are very concerning’ reportedly angered the president and prompted him to post an upbeat video update on his condition Saturday.
The New York Times claimed that people close to the situation said that Trump was infuriated by the comments and acted to counteract the perception that he was very sick.
The president uploaded the four-minute video to his Twitter page on Saturday night in which he said he was ‘much better’ and fighting coronavirus, as his physician gave a optimistic update on his symptoms.
Yet earlier in the day, Meadows was caught asking to go off the record with White House reporters as an ‘anonymous’ source revealed the true extent of the president’s condition.
‘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,’ Meadows told reporters on the initial condition that he not be identified.
He was later named as the source of the quote.
Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ revelation to reporters that Donald Trump’s ‘vitals are very concerning’ reportedly angered the president and prompted him to post an upbeat video update on his condition Saturday
Meadows’ comments came just after a White House team of doctors said that Trump’s condition was improving and that he was already talking about returning to the White House.
One doctor said Trump told them: ‘I feel like I could walk out of here today.’
Meadows did not clarify the discrepancy in his comments.
A Trump adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity said the president was not happy to learn of Meadows’ initial remarks, according to Reuters.
Hours later, the president posted a video from the hospital where he is battling Covid-19, saying he was improving and would be ‘back soon’ – but acknowledging the crucial coming days would be ‘the real test.
Trump attempted to reassure the public that he was not suffering severe coronavirus symptoms and called his treatment ‘miracles from God’ as he worked to counteract Meadows’ comments.
‘I came here, wasn’t feeling so well. I feel much better now,’ he said from his business suite at Walter Reed military medical center. ‘We’re working hard to get me all the way back… I think I’ll be back soon and I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started.’
Appearing relaxed in an open-collar blue suit and jacket, Trump acknowledged that there was uncertainty about the course of the disease, which can hit recovering patients hard with no warning.
‘I’m starting to feel good. You don’t know over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.’
Several hours later, Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere posted a picture showing Trump working into the night from the hospital.
The video came after Meadows’ earlier comments spread and led to concern about how ill the president is, despite the optimistic updates from his personal physician.
Meadows quickly tried to step back his words as the news spread, telling Reuters shortly afterward that Trump was doing ‘very well’ and that doctors were in fact pleased with his vital signs.
‘The president is doing very well. He is up and about and asking for documents to review. The doctors are very pleased with his vital signs. I have met with him on multiple occasions today on a variety of issues,’ Meadows said.
He made a third comment on the president’s condition to Fox News on Saturday night in which the Chief of Staff confirmed that there had been a cause for concern when the president was hospitalized on Friday evening.
The White House had said that Trump was traveling to Walter Reed Military Medical Center out of an ‘abundance of caution’ and would continue to work from they for a ‘few days’ as he underwent tests.
‘Yesterday morning he was real concerned with that. He had a fever and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly,’ Meadows said to Fox’s Judge Jeanie.
Yet, he added that Trump’s condition had improved.
‘He is doing extremely well. I am very, very optimistic based on the current result,’ Meadows added.
‘He’s made unbelievable improvement from yesterday’ Meadows continued after again saying the doctors were ‘very concerned’.
‘We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery,’ he added.
The White House physician also said that Trump had been exhibiting ‘clinical indications’ of coronavirus as early as Thursday afternoon.
Trump provided his own account of his medical condition on Saturday evening, releasing a video of him working from the presidential suite at the hospital in a white button down with no tie and the first button undone.
‘I’m starting to feel good’ the president said in a video posted to Twitter as he promised that he was fighting the virus for COVID-19 patients ‘all over the world’.
Full transcript from Sunday’s medical briefing on Trump
SEAN CONLEY: Good morning.
Since we spoke last, the president has continued to improve. As with any illness, there are frequent ups and downs over the course, particularly when a patient is being so closely watched 24 hours a day. We review and debate every finding, compared to existing science and literature, weighing the risks and benefits of every intervention, the timing as well as impacts a delay may have.
Over the course of his illness the president has experienced two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation. We debated the reasons for this and whether we would even intervene. As a determination of the team based on the timeline from the initial diagnosis that we initiated dexamethasone.
I would like to take this opportunity, given speculation over the course of the illness, the last couple days, update you on the course of his illness. Thursday night into Friday morning when I left the bedside the president was doing well. With only mild symptoms and his oxygen was in the high 90s.
Late Friday morning, when I returned to the bedside, the president had a high fever and his oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94%. Given these two developments, I was concerned for possible rapid progression of the illness. I recommended the president would try supplemental oxygen, see how he would respond. He was fairly adamant that he didn’t need it. He was not short of breath. He was tired, had the fever and that was about it. After about a minute, on only two liters, his saturation levels were over 95%. He stayed on that for about an hour, maybe, and was off and gone.
Later that day, by the time the team here was at the bedside, the president had been up out of bed, moving about the residence, with only mild symptoms. Despite this, everyone agreed the best course of action was to move to Walter reed for more thorough evaluation and monitoring. I would like to invite up Dr. Dr. Dooley to discuss the corn plans.
SEAN DOOLEY: Thank you, Dr. Conley. A brief clinical update on the president’s condition, I want to reiterate my comments from yesterday regarding how proud I am to be part of this multi-disciplinary team of clinical professionals behind me and what an honor it it to care for the president here at Walter reed national military medical center.
The president continues to improve. He has remained without fever since Friday morning. His vital signs are stable. From a pulmonary standpoint, he remains on room air this morning and a is not complaining of shortness of breath or other significant respiratory symptoms, is ambulating himself, walking around the White House medical unit without limitation or disability.
‘Our continued monitoring of his cardiac, liver and kidney function demonstrates continued normal findings or improving findings. I’ll now turn it over to Dr. Garabaldi from Johns Hopkins to talk about therapeutics and our plan for today.
BRIAN GARIBALDI: Thank you, Dr. Dooley. I wanted to reiterate what an honor and privilege it is to take care of the president and be part of such a talented team here at Walter Reed. The president yesterday evening completed his second dose of remdesivir. He’s tolerated that infusion well. We have been monitoring for potential side effects.
He’s had none that we can tell. Liver and kidney function have remained normal. We continue to plan to use a five day course of remdesivir. In response to transient low oxygen levels as Dr. Conley has discussed, we did initiate dexamethasone therapy and he received his first dose of that yesterday and our plan is to continue that for the time being.
Today, he feels well. He’s been up and around. Our plan is to have him to eat and drink, be up out of bed as much as possible torques be mobile. If he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is to plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House where he can continue his treatment course many thank you very much. I’ll turn it over to Dr. Conley for any questions.
CONLEY: Just a moment, please. The president wanted me to share how proud he is of the group, what an honor it is for him to be receiving her care here, surrounded by incredible talent, academic leaders, department chairs, internationally renowned doctors and physicians. I would like to reiterate how pleased we all are with the president’s recovery. With that I’ll take your questions.
REPORTER: Dr. Conley, you said there were two instances where he had drops in oxygen. Can you walk us through the second one. And also I’ve got a question for the lung specialist afterwards.
CONLEY: Yesterday there was another episode where he dropped down 93%. He didn’t ever feel short of breath. We watched it and it returned back up. We evaluate all of these and given the timeline where he is in the course of illness, we were trying to maximize everything we could do for him and we debated whether we would even start it. The dexamethasone. And we decided that in this case the potential benefits early on the course probably outweighed any risks at this time.
REPORTER: Did you give him a second round of supplemental oxygen yesterday?
CONLEY: I would have to check with the nursing staff. If he did, it was very limited. But he’s not on oxygen and the only oxygen that I ordered, that we provided was that Friday morning initially.
REPORTER: What time was that yesterday?
CONLEY: Yesterday — what was yesterday?
REPORTER: The second incident.
CONLEY: The second incident. It was over the course of the day, yeah, yesterday morning.
REPORTER: The president’s current blood oxygen levels, that’s my first question to you, Dr. Conley.
REPORTER: What did the x-rays and ct scans show? Are there signs of pneumonia? Are there signs of lung involvement? Or any damage to the lung?
CONLEY: We’re tracking all of that. There’s some expected findings but nothing of any major clinical concern.
REPORTERS: Why start him, Dr. Conley on the…Did is oxygen level ever dip below 90?
CONLEY: We don’t have any recordings of that.
REPORTER: What about at the White House or here, anything below 90, just to follow up on her question?
CONLEY: It was below 94%. It wasn’t the low 80s or anything.
REPORTER: Yesterday you told us the president was in great shape, has been in good shape, minutes after your press conference Mark Meadows told reporters that the president’s vitals were very concerning over the last 24 hours. Simple question for the American people, whose statements about the president’s health should be believed?
CONLEY: The chief and I work side-by-side. I think his statement was misconstrued. What he meant was that 24 hours ago, when he and I were checking on the president, that there was that momentary episode of a high fever and that temporary drop in the saturation, which prompted us to act expediently to move him up here. Fortunately, that was really very transient, limited episode. A couple hours later he was back up, mild again. I’m not going to speculate what that limited episode was about, so early in the course but he’s doing well.
REPORTER: What are the expected findings on the lungs and why is the president not wearing a mask in the videos and photos that have been released.
CONLEY: The president is wearing a mask any time he’s around us and we’re wearing our n-95s, full ppe. He’s the patient and when we can, when he’ll move out into public, we move him out and about other people when he’s not in full ppe, I’ll assure you, as long as he’s under my care, he’ll be wearing a mask.
REPORTER: The room is negative pressure?
CONLEY: I’m not going to get into specifics of his care.
REPORTER: Can you answer the question on the lung function? The lung function question, Dr. Conley.
CONLEY: I’m sorry.
REPORTER: The lung function question, can you talk about that.
CONLEY: I would share, like every patient, we perform lung spirometry on him. He’s maxing it out. We told him, see what you can do, it’s over 2500 milliliters each time. He’s doing great.
REPORTERS: Why were you so reluctant until today to disclose that the president had been administered oxygen?
CONLEY: I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of isness has had. — Illness has had. Didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, it came off that we were trying to hide something which wasn’t necessarily true and there you have it. He is — the fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well. He is responding and as the team said, if everything continues to go well, we’re going to start discharge planning back to the white house. That’s it. Thank you, folks.
Senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said Sunday that the president is ‘ready to get back to the campaign trail’
Fellow senior campaign adviser Steve Cortes (right) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace (left): ‘He was as upbeat and assertive as he’s ever been’ and claimed: ‘This president is going to recover’
The comments come the morning after White House Physician, Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley, said in a briefing Trump is ‘not yet out of the woods’
The 74-year-old president added that the treatments he is receiving are ‘miracles from God’ as he said Melania’s symptoms were not as severe as his own.
‘We’re both doing well,’ Trump said in the four-minute video showing images of him working from the medical center.
‘Melania is really handling it very nicely. As you’ve probably read, she’s slightly younger than me, just a little tiny bit,’ he said of his 50-year-old wife.
‘And therefore, we know the disease, we know the situation with age versus younger people and Melania is handling it statistically like it’s supposed to be handled and that makes me very happy, and it makes the country very happy, but I’m also doing well and I think we’re gonna have a very good result again.’
He said in the video that he is feeling better and will ‘be back soon.’
Trump released a video with him working from the Presidential Suite at Walter Reed Saturday where he said he will ‘be back soon’
Feeling better: ‘I’m starting to feel good’ Trump said in a Twitter video as he promised he was fighting the virus for COVID-19 patients ‘all over the world’
‘I spoke with the President yesterday afternoon and he’s in very good spirits,’ Miller said. ‘Both Bill Stepien, the campaign manager, and I spent about a half hour on the phone with the president and going through all the updates on what’s going on with the campaign.’
Miller also said he believes the campaign, White House and medical team are just taking ‘very precautionary’ steps toward ensuring the president’s health.
It appears the two ‘spreader’ events could have been when Trump announced Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court at the White House last Saturday and during his rally Wednesday in Minnesota.
Hicks, who traveled with the president to the rally this week, tested positive for coronavirus hours after the event – where she was in close proximity to the president and several of his White House and campaign staffer.
Several individuals who participated in Trump’s debate prep last week, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, tested positive for coronavirus.
Miller told ABC News’ ‘This Week’ on Sunday morning that he tested negative on Friday – as well as Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who also participated in debate preparations.
Misleading medical reports, backtracking doctors and a confused timeline: How a paranoid Trump’s fear of leaks has left his own team in the dark about severity of his condition – and how exposed THEY are to COVID-19
The White House has been thrown into chaos and confusion in the wake of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis as staffers are left in the dark about the president’s condition and potential risks to their own health.
Over the past four days Trump’s team has offered a number of conflicting reports surrounding the president’s illness, sowing doubt about when he tested positive and how severe his symptoms have been.
Meanwhile the virus has continued to spread through the White House, infecting at least 12 people who work there by Saturday night, as staff try to stay informed via the media in the absence of transparency from top brass in the Trump administration.
One senior White House official lifted the lid on the state of the 1600 Penn in an interview with Intelligencer on Saturday, decrying how paranoid attempts to avoid leaks have not only failed, but are threatening the health and safety of staff.
‘Ninety percent of the [White House] complex most certainly learned about it in the news, as has been the case ever since,’ the senior official said.
‘There are reports that COVID is spreading like wildfire through the White House. Since this whole thing started, not one email has gone out to tell employees what to do or what’s going on.’
The official said that the majority of staff has received little to no reliable information, about the president’s condition or about anything else regarding the outbreak.
‘I think most of it is paranoia about leaks,’ they said, ‘yet … the leaks continue.’
The White House has been thrown into chaos and confusion in the wake of Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis as staffers are left in the dark about the president’s condition and potential risks to their own health. Pictured: Marine One leaves the White House on Friday as Trump is transported to Walter Reed National Military Hospital for treatment
Trump’s personal physician Sean Conley (pictured) offered a vague update on his condition outside Walter Reed on Saturday morning, saying the president is doing ‘very well’
Outside the White House, confusion erupted on Saturday when Trump’s team of doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center offered a vague but sunny update on his health that was then contradicted by the president’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
‘This morning, the president is doing very well. The team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made. He’s been fever free for 24 hours and we are cautiously optimistic,’ Trump’s personal physician Sean Conley told reporters outside Walter Reed.
Conley’s depiction was far more hopeful than one put forward by Meadows, who spoke to a press pooler on background immediately after the briefing ended.
‘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,’ Meadows said.
The briefing raised more questions than answers as Conley declined to say what temperature Trump had when he had a fever or whether he was on oxygen.
Conley also said that the president was ’72 hours into the diagnosis’, indicating that Trump could have tested positive as early as Wednesday – not Thursday night as the White House had claimed.
If he was 72 hours into his diagnosis, that would mean Trump was positive a day after the presidential debate with Joe Biden and positive during a Minnesota rally Wednesday and a fundraising event in New Jersey attended by 100 people Thursday.
Conley and other senior officials spent the rest of Saturday backtracking, claiming that the doctor misspoke when he said ’72 hours’ and that he actually meant ‘day three’.
After the presser Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (pictured) told a pool reporter: ‘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’
Trump announced his diagnosis just before 1am Friday, hours after it emerged that his top aide, Hope Hicks, had tested positive after she started feeling sick on Wednesday while traveling to Minnesota with the president for his rally.
The White House sought to keep Hicks’ diagnosis under wraps and apparently didn’t inform its own staff despite the possibility that they could have been exposed to her.
Questions over the timeline are concerning both within and outside the White House because the president had traveled to multiple states and was exposed to countless people in the days before his diagnosis was announced.
On Wednesday the president appeared before a crowd of hundreds of people, who were notably not socially distanced, at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota.
He spoke for 45 minutes, far less than his usual performances of more than an hour. At the rally he was seen throwing red MAGA caps into the crowd. Then he fell asleep on Air Force One in contrast to normally watching television and tweeting.
The following day Trump traveled to his golf course and resort in Bedminster, New Jersey for an indoor fundraiser with about 100 attendees.
Trump reportedly met about 19 high-dollar GOP donors in private and seemed ‘lethargic’ at that fundraiser.
The contact tracing process is underway in New Jersey and Gov Phil Murphy is urging anyone at the Bedminster event or around it to self quarantine and get tested.
Organizers of the fundraiser have sent out an email to attendees informing them of Trump’s diagnosis, urging them to get tested if they experience symptoms.
It is unclear whether Trump caught the virus directly from Hicks, who traveled with him Tuesday for his debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Cleveland and on Wednesday to Minnesota.
On Wednesday the president spoke before a crowd of hundreds of people, who were notably not socially distanced, at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota
It is unclear whether Trump caught the virus directly from Hicks, who traveled with him Tuesday for his debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Cleveland and on Wednesday to Minnesota. Hicks pictured with White House advisor Jared Kushner and White House social media director Dan Scavino walking to Air Force One Wednesday
By Friday evening the president was flown on Marine One to Walter Reed hospital for a several days long stay to undergo treatment ‘out of an abundance of caution’ after reporting symptoms of fever, cough and congestion that the White House described as ‘mild’.
Rumors that officials were downplaying the severity of Trump’s condition began to swirl on Friday night as an anonymous White House official claimed he was hospitalized because he was having ‘trouble breathing’.
Dr Conley said Saturday that he was speaking ’48 hours after’ Trump received his first dose of Regenron’s experimental polyclonal antibody cocktail. That would mean on Thursday morning.
And another doctor – Brian Garibaldi – said: ‘About 48 hours ago the president received a special antibody therapy directed against the coronavirus. We are working very closely with the company to monitor him in terms of that outcome. Yesterday evening he received his first dose of IV remdesvir.’
Then in a statement Conley said Regenron was first administered on Friday – but not when. That means two doctors have now said the White House has misspoken.
Conley repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether the president had ever been placed on supplemental oxygen, merely stating that he wasn’t on it at the time of the briefing.
The physician said Trump’s medical team was still assessing the president to determine when he can be discharged from Walter Reed but asserted that he was on the mend.
Both Conley and the White House maintained that Trump’s hospitalization was precautionary, rather than a sign that his case was growing more serious.
However, Intelligencer spoke to Panagis Galiastatos, a pulmonary and critical-care physician at Johns Hopkins who has treated more than 100 COVID-19 patients in his hospital’s ICU, challenged that suggestion.
Galiastatos said that the details about Trump’s remdesivir treatment indicated that he is suffering from a ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ case of COVID-19.
The doctor said he suspects Trump ‘probably had COVID-19 around Wednesday’, noting that patients are understood to be contagious ‘several days before’ showing symptoms.
If that’s the case, it could mean that Trump was positive during Tuesday night’s debate with Biden. Both Biden and his wife Jill tested negative after the news of Hicks’ diagnosis.
Meadows contradicted Conley’s assertion that Trump was doing ‘very well’ in his comment to the press pool immediately after the Walter Reed briefing.
The chief of staff apparently did not intend for his message to reach the wider press pool – but after it did, he appeared on Fox News on Saturday night and admitted that Trump’s condition had been ‘very concerning’ on Friday.
Multiple sources also claimed that Trump had been placed on oxygen prior to being admitted to Walter Reed, which the White House confirmed later on Sunday evening.
The president addressed the nation himself in a video from the hospital on Saturday night, saying he was feeling better while acknowledging, as Meadows had said, that the next two days are critical.
‘I came here, I wasn’t feeling so well, I feel much better now. We’re working hard to get me back. I have to get all the way back because we still have to make America great again,’ Trump said in the video posted to Twitter.
‘I don’t know the next period of a few days, I guess. That’s the real test so we’ll be seeing what happened over those next couple of days.’
The president is said have been upset over the confusion surrounding his condition after Meadows appeared to undermine Conley’s optimistic report.
But equally frustrated are those working in the White House, who are only getting updates via the media amid fears that they could be the next staffer infected with the virus.
Speaking to the senior White House official, Intelligencer placed the ordeal in a broader context, asking how Americans could trust the Trump administration’s portrayal of the coronavirus nationwide given the chaotic handling of this internal outbreak.
‘I can’t,’ the official replied.