Conflicting Messages on Trump’s Health

Donald Trump, who has COVID-19, is improving, say his doctors, who plan to discharge him from hospital on Monday. Conflicting statements from the White House and medical staff in recent days, however, are confusing the severity of his condition.

“At this time, the team and I are extremely pleased with the progress made by the President […] We remain cautiously optimistic. He’s doing very well, “Presidential doctor Sean Conley said on Sunday morning from Walter Reed’s military hospital in suburban Washington, where Donald Trump was admitted Friday night.

He indicated that the US president had no more fever and that he could – if his condition continues to improve – return to the White House on Monday, where he would continue his treatment.

The Dr Conley nevertheless admitted to having misled journalists the day before, saying that Donald Trump was doing “very well”. In fact, his oxygen level dropped twice, to the point of requiring supplemental oxygen on Friday for about an hour, and also on Saturday morning. He also had a fever and was coughing.

“Like any disease, there are ups and downs,” said Dr.r Conley, explaining that he concealed these details to project an “optimistic” image. But at the same time, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Saturday that the previous 24 hours had been very worrying, causing confusion.

The doctor added that he himself recommended supplementing the president with oxygen, even though the president was not out of breath. “I was worried about the potentially rapid progression of the disease. “If he says Mr. Trump is doing better, the Dr Conley declined to describe the current condition of his lungs.

74-year-old clinically obese Donald Trump is at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19. His medical team saw fit to give him a third treatment on Saturday, dexamethasone, a corticosteroid drug used against severe forms of the disease. He is also still being treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir as well as an experimental cocktail from Regeneron.

The new treatment, only announced on Sunday, has once again caused confusion as it is used in critically ill COVID-19 patients. How then to imagine the president taking the road to the White House Monday and returning to the electoral campaign?

“The message is not clear, everyone is contradicting themselves or going back on what they said. We say he’s okay, then we admit he wasn’t so well after all. It’s hard to find the part of the truth in this, ”analyzes Frédérick Gagnon, director of the Observatory on the United States of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair at UQAM.

Lightning appearance

One thing is certain, Donald Trump is trying to maintain the image of a fit man despite being hospitalized. “He wants to stay the course, reassure his supporters. It’s a whole lot of public relations management that we are witnessing, ”says Gagnon.

Photos of the president “at work” signing papers from the hospital were released over the weekend. He also posted several messages and videos on Twitter. “I learned a lot about COVID-19, I learned it by experiencing it myself, it is the school of life,” he said in his last video shared on Sunday, in which he thanked his doctors and the “great patriots” who watch over him outside.

The septuagenarian made a flash appearance in the evening in front of the gates of the military hospital. Behind the window of a black, masked vehicle, he greeted his many supporters gathered near the building, before returning to the hospital.

The president’s exit sparked strong criticism on social media. Several people, including American doctors, stressed the risk to the Secret Service agents accompanying him.

“It’s a lot of political staging. History has shown us that when an American president is ill, it is announced to the general public, but we keep it low key. But Donald Trump always needs to put on a show, ”commented Professor Charles-Philippe David, founder of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair.

Without questioning Mr. Trump’s contamination with COVID-19, he says he expects all scenarios: either the president is much sicker than one suggests and is working hard to hide it, or he has multiplied preventive treatments and will get back on their feet at full speed. “In this case, we will have to expect that he collects sympathy, presents himself as a hero and ensures that, like him, everyone can beat COVID-19. “

Transmission channel

In addition to conflicting signals about the president’s state of health, when and how he was infected remain unclear. Precisions however essential to assess how many people he could have infected.

It was on the night of Thursday to Friday that Donald Trump announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, like several people around him, including his wife, Melania Trump.

The Dr Conley said on Saturday, however, that it had been 72 hours since the president had been diagnosed, suggesting he had known since Wednesday. The doctor recanted a few hours later saying he had misspoken and the test was actually Thursday.

This is confusing and especially worrying, since Donald Trump attended a campaign event at a closed location in Minneapolis on Wednesday and another at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey the next day.

It must be said that he led an election campaign ignoring the pandemic, organizing physical rather than virtual rallies and meeting his supporters across the country.

Research into the broadcast channel notably led to a White House event on September 26 celebrating the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. More than 150 senior officials and Republicans attended, maskless, shaking hands and ignoring physical distancing.

For its part, the team of Democratic candidate Joe Biden find themselves reassured in their decision to lead a limited, mostly virtual campaign and to scrupulously respect health measures. The would-be president received a second COVID-19 negative result on Sunday and will be campaigning in Florida on Monday.

A second televised debate is still scheduled for October 15. The first, Tuesday, made the current president lose some feathers. A poll taken just after, but before his hospitalization, reports a considerable increase in voting intentions for Democratic candidate Joe Biden: 53% against 39%, according to an NBC survey / Wall Street Journal.

With Agence France-Presse

New York ready to reconfine

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