“I’m not afraid of Covid-19,” Donald Trump announces on Twitter after two days hospitalized after testing positive for the coronavirus.
US President Donald Trump expected to be released Monday from the military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19, a day after he briefly ventured out while contagious to greet supporters in a caravan, an exit that did not take into account precautions designed to contain the virus that has killed more than 209 thousand Americans.
The scale of the outbreak within the White House itself was still being uncovered when press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she tested positive for the virus Monday morning and was entering self-quarantine.
The White House said Trump’s doctor, Dr. Sean Conley, would brief reporters at 3 p.m. on the situation, however doctors had not released an update on his condition since Sunday morning. Trump posted on Twitter that he will be leaving Walter Reed Medical Center at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020
White House officials said Trump was eager to be released after three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors revealed Sunday that his blood oxygen level had suddenly dropped twice in recent days and that They gave him a steroid that is generally only recommended for the very sick.
Still, doctors said Trump’s health was improving and that he could be released Monday to continue the rest of his treatment at the White House.
Trump “is ready to return to normal work hours” and was optimistic about a Monday statement, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News. He said a determination would be made after further evaluation by his medical team later Monday.
Less than a month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still contagious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, traveling Sunday in a black van with the windows closed. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen wearing masks and other protective gear.
The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fueled confusion over Trump’s health, which has endangered the leadership of the US government and upset the final stages of the presidential campaign.
While Trump’s doctor offered an optimistic prognosis about his condition, his reports lacked basic information, including the findings of lung scans, or were quickly confused by more serious assessments of the president’s health by other officials.
In a short video released by the White House on Sunday, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions moments later, leaving the hospital and sitting inside the van with others, suggested otherwise.
McEnany spoke briefly to reporters Sunday night without wearing a mask, but said no member of the White House press corps spent enough time around him to be considered a close contact.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best evidence is that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 are not contagious about 10 days after the onset of symptoms.
People with more serious illnesses are likely to be contagious no more than 20 days after symptoms appear, according to those guidelines. That means isolation, whether in the hospital or at home, is supposed to last for at least 10 days.
United States in trouble over politicians with Covid-19
Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential candidate again tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday. The results came five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the stage of the debate with Trump.
Biden, who has taken a much more cautious approach to in-person events, and Trump repeatedly scoffed at it, had two negative tests on Friday.
Trump’s doctors dodged questions Sunday about exactly when blood oxygen dropped (episodes they didn’t mention in multiple statements the day before) or whether lung scans showed any damage.
It was the second consecutive day of obfuscation of a White House already suffering a credibility crisis. And it raised further questions about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate and timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition.
Trump and his treatment against the coronavirus
Trump’s treatment with the steroid dexamethasone is in addition to the single dose he received Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus.
Trump also began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for patients with moderate and severe illnesses, on Friday.
Medications work in different ways: Antibodies help the immune system remove the virus from the body, and remdesivir slows the virus’ ability to multiply.
Steroid use has only been shown to help in more severe cases. One of the concerns with past use is that steroids tamp down certain immune cells, hampering the body’s ability to fight infection.
Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk for serious complications. First lady Melania Trump has remained in the White House as she recovers from her own attack with the virus.
Many in the White House are also shocked and scared, nervous that they have been exposed to the virus and facing the reality that what looked like a security bubble has become a focus of COVID-19.
The White House took until Sunday to send a generic note to employees suggesting that they not come to the building if they were not feeling well.