The American president is still hospitalized for coronavirus, in the middle of the electoral campaign.
President Donald Trump went through a period “extremely worrying” and the next two days will be “crucial” after falling ill with coronavirus, according to the head of his office, Mark Meadows, who marked a sharp contrast with the optimistic tone used previously by the president’s doctors, who went to great lengths not to reveal that Trump received supplemental oxygen at the White House before being taken to the hospital.
This Sunday, Trump was still being held at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. On Saturday afternoon, he offered his own assessment of his health, in a video in which he said he was feeling better. “I hope to return soon,” he said.
Hours earlier, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows admitted to reporters outside the hospital: “We are not yet on a clear path to a full recovery.” On Saturday night, the president’s general practitioner expressed cautious optimism, but added that Trump “was not out of the woods yet.”
The different and contradictory statements plunged the White House into a credibility crisis at a delicate time, in which doubts about the president’s health and his ability to serve are mounting. Anxiety grows among the public at a time when Trump will have to stay in the hospital for several days, right in the final stretch of a contentious national election.
The president’s illness leads to security complications, both nationally and internationally.
The first briefing on Saturday offered by the presidential physician, Dr. Sean Conley, along with other professionals, raised more questions than it resolved. Conley repeatedly refused to disclose whether Trump had to use an oxygen tube and declined to release certain details, such as how many degrees of fever the president had. At the same time, it revealed that Trump began exhibiting symptoms of the disease on Thursday afternoon, earlier than had been published so far.
Conley spent much of the encounter dodging questions from reporters. “On Thursday she did not receive any oxygen, nothing so far and yesterday with the whole team, when we were all here, she did not receive oxygen,” Conley said.
However, according to an official source with knowledge of Trump’s condition, the president did receive supplemental oxygen Friday morning at the White House before being taken to the hospital by helicopter that afternoon. The source asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the press.
Conley said that the symptoms exhibited by Trump – cough, nasal congestion and fatigue – “are now subsiding and improving” and that the ruler has been without fever for 24 hours. However, he said Trump is taking aspirin, which lowers body temperature and tends to mask or mitigate symptoms.
“He is exceptionally in good spirits,” said another physician, Sean Dooley. He reported that the president’s heart, kidney and liver are functioning normally and that he was not having difficulty breathing or walking.
In the afternoon, Conley said that Trump was walking into the presidential suite of the hospital and performing his duties fully. “While it is not entirely safe, doctors are cautiously optimistic,” he said.
In the video posted from the hospital, Trump defended his decision to continue campaigning in person amid the pandemic.
“I had no alternative”, assured the ruler, who repeatedly refused to follow the medical recommendations of his own government, such as wearing a mask.
“I cannot be locked in a fully protected room … As a leader you have to face problems,” he said.
Colvin and Miller reported from Washington. The Associated Press journalist Marilynn Marchione contributed to this report from Milwaukee.
With AP information