Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET
Conflicting reports emerged Saturday about President Trump’s health and the timeline of when he was first tested positive for the coronavirus.
Trump is “doing very well,” his physician told reporters on Saturday morning, but a source familiar with the president’s health later told White House pool reporters, that “the president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning.” The Associated Press identified that information as coming from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“The next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” the official said. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
The timeline of Trump’s diagnosis laid out by doctors in a Saturday news conference was quickly walked back by the White House, raising questions about when the president actually first began experiencing symptoms and receiving treatment for the coronavirus.
Speaking outside the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump was taken Friday evening, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley made reference to “72 hours into the diagnosis.” That would be midday Wednesday, before Trump traveled to Minnesota for a fundraiser and an outdoor rally.
Trump revealed his positive coronavirus test publicly in a tweet at about 1 a.m. Friday.
Another physician at the news conference, Dr. Brian Garibaldi, said the president began an experimental antibody therapy “about 48 hours ago,” which would be Thursday midday, around the time Trump flew to New Jersey for a fundraiser and before he shared his test results.
A little over an hour after the press conference concluded, a senior White House official said that Conley meant to say it’s Day 3, not 72 hours, since Trump’s diagnosis and that the antibody therapy was administered Thursday night, not 48 hours ago.
“The President was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on the evening of Thursday, October 1st and had received Regeneron’s antibody cocktail on Friday, October 2nd,” Conley then clarified in a memo.
Doctors briefing the press also painted a much rosier picture of the president’s health than the report from a White House official that the last 24 hours were “concerning.”
Conley said that the president’s mild cough and fatigue are improving, that he has not had trouble breathing, and that he has not had a fever for 24 hours.
Shortly after the press conference, Trump weighed in on Twitter, saying he was feeling well.
Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020
Dr. Sean Dooley, a pulmonologist at Walter Reed, told reporters that Trump’s liver, kidney and cardiac functions are good.
Dooley told reporters that the president said Saturday morning, “I feel like I could walk out of here today.”
Trump is not currently on supplemental oxygen, though Conley would not confirm whether he had needed it earlier.
Conley said that days seven to 10 into the illness are critical and that the president’s condition at that time will give the medical team a better sense of the course of the illness. He will continue a five-day course of remdesivir treatment.
On Friday, the White House said Trump would stay at Walter Reed for a few days, and it posted a video on Twitter of the president in the White House Diplomatic Room, thanking supporters for their well wishes.
Asked why the decision was made to transfer Trump to Walter Reed, Conley said, “Because he’s the president of the United States.”
Friday night, Conley released a letter saying Trump is “doing very well” and has started remdesivir therapy. “He has completed his first dose and is resting comfortably,” Conley wrote.
Before the president left the White House, he received a dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail, an experimental drug that has shown signs of success in improving symptoms and reducing virus levels in the body. The drug is currently under evaluation but has not received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The White House reported that Trump was suffering from mild symptoms, including congestion and fatigue.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the president has downplayed the importance of wearing masks and the ongoing threat of the pandemic. During a campaign rally in Ohio last month, Trump told the crowd that the coronavirus affects “virtually nobody.”
Several top Republicans, the first lady, campaign officials and White House aides have now tested positive for the coronavirus, upending the presidential campaign just a month from Election Day.