Conflicting reports about whether President Trump required oxygen and when he was diagnosed with coronavirus


BETHESDA, Maryland (WJW) – White House physician Dr. Sean Conley held a briefing on the health of President Trump with a team of doctors from Walter Reed Medical Center outside the hospital Saturday morning.

White House physician Sean Conley (R), with medical staff, gives an update on the condition of US President Donald Trump, on October 3, 2020, at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. – Trump is “doing very well” and is up and moving about as he undergoes treatment for Covid-19 with his symptoms improving, Conley said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr. Conley did most of the speaking and said he and the team “are extremely happy with the progress the president has made.”

The president said he was diagnosed with coronavirus Friday morning.

He confirmed the news in a tweet just before 1 a.m.

In the briefing at Walter Reed, Dr. Conley referenced multiple times that the president was 72 hours into the diagnosis, which would actually have made the diagnosis around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Wednesday the president traveled to a private fundraiser in Minneapolis and held a rally in Duluth.

President Trump also traveled to New Jersey for a private fundraiser on Thursday.

Reporters pressed Conley on the timeline, specifically saying that 72 hours would take the confirmation back to Wednesday.

“Yeah so Thursday afternoon, uh, following the news of a close contact, is when we repeated testing, uh um and given kind of clinical indications I had a little bit more concern, and that’s when, that late, that night, we uh, we got the PCR confirmation that he was,” Conley said.

Another doctor at the press conference also made a reference to time, that put another wrinkle in the timeline put out by the White House.

“About 48-hours ago, the president received a special antibody therapy directed against the coronavirus and we’re working very closely with the company to monitor him in terms of that outcome,” Pulmonary care doctor Brian Garibaldi said.

48-hours prior to the press conference would have been Thursday, ahead of the president’s trip to New Jersey.

Following the press conference, the White House released a statement about the timeline questions.

The Associated Press and other media are reporting that President Trump was administered supplemental oxygen at the White House Friday before he was flown to Walter Reed.

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the president went through a “very concerning” period Friday and that the next 48 hours would be critical.

Dr. Conley would not answer the question about whether the president had been given oxygen, deflecting the question several times.

“He’s not on oxygen right now,” he said to a reporter’s question about whether the president had been administered oxygen.

“He’s not needed this morning, uh, today at all,” Conley followed up.

Reporters asked Conley several times, but he did not answer it directly.

What doctors said about the president’s health and treatment

“At this time the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” Dr. Conley said. “Thursday, he had a mild cough, and some nasal congestion, and fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.”

“We are monitoring him very closely for any evidence of complications from either the coronavirus illness or the therapies that we are prescribing to make him better,” said Dr. Sean Dooley, Pulmonary care specialist. “We have monitored his cardiac function, his kidney function, his liver function. All of those are normal. And the president this morning is not on oxygen, not having difficulty breathing or walking around the White House medical unit upstairs.”

“He’s in exceptionally good spirits and in fact as we were completing our multidisciplinary rounds this morning, the quote he left us with was ‘I feel like I could walk out of here today,’ and that was a very encouraging comment from the president,” Dr. Dooley said.

Doctors say the president will receive a five-day treatment course for remdesivir.

“It’s important to note the president has been fever-free for 24 hours. We remain cautiously optimistic, but he’s doing great.” Dr. Conley said.

Conley also said the president’s oxygen saturation level when he was up and walking was 96%, and that his blood pressure was normal.

How long will the president be hospitalized?

“When will he be discharged?” a reporter asked.

“I don’t want to put a hard date on that,” Dr. Conley said.

“With the known course of the illness, day 7 to 10 we get really concerned about the inflammatory phase, phase two. Given that we’ve provided some of these advance therapies so early in the course, a little bit earlier than most of the patients we know and follow, um, it’s hard to tell where he is on that course and so every day we are evaluating, does he need to be here? What does he need, uh, and where is he going?”

He continued, “If he needs all five days that will likely be the course. But again, every day we are reviewing with the team his needs for being here. And as soon as he gets to the point that it’s not a requirement, he may still need some care but we can provide that downtown, at the house, then we will transition at that point, as long as it’s safe and appropriate and the team agrees.”

Dr. Conley also said that the White House was conducting contact tracing.

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