The administration continues to downplay the severity of Donald Trump's illness.
The White House has issued a series of misleading statements about Donald Trump's health since Friday, when Trump announced on Twitter that he and Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The White House has repeatedly left Americans in the dark about Trump's health. On Friday, Trump missed his regular call to vulnerable seniors, delegating it to Vice President Mike Pence. Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters Trump's case was "mild."
Over the weekend, White House officials downplayed the severity of Trump's condition. At a press briefing on Saturday, Dr. Scott Conley, Trump's personal physician, refused to give a direct answer when asked if Trump had been receiving oxygen for his condition.
"Has he ever been on supplemental oxygen?" a reporter asked.
"Right now, he is not on oxygen," Conley replied.
"I know you keep saying right now, but should we read into the fact that he had been previously?” the reporter said.
"Yesterday and today, he was not on oxygen," Conley said on Saturday. "The president's been fever-free for over 24 hours. We remain cautiously optimistic, but he's doing great."
But just the next day, Conley admitted he'd willfully misled the public in order to maintain Trump's "upbeat attitude."
"Late Friday morning, when I returned to the bedside, the president had a high fever and his oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94%," Conley said at a press briefing on Sunday. "Given these two developments, I was concerned for possible rapid progression of the illness. I recommended the president would try supplemental oxygen, see how he would respond. He was fairly adamant that he didn't need it. He was not short of breath. He was tired, had the fever and that was about it."
It remains unclear when Trump first tested positive for the virus, raising questions about whether he took necessary safety precautions upon getting sick.
At Saturday's press conference, Conley said Trump tested positive for the virus on Wednesday — one day before Trump attended a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club on Thursday. Conley later said he misspoke. Regardless of his own status at the time, Trump attended the fundraiser despite knowing that White House aide Hope Hicks, whom he'd been in close contact with, had tested positive.
On Wednesday, Trump went to Minnesota for a large outdoor and indoor rally that included karaoke — and few masks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms can arise two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. The fact that both Melania and Donald Trump exhibited symptoms hours after announcing their positive test results — with the latter developing serious symptoms like a drop in oxygen — suggests that they either were not taking daily tests, or that they'd received a positive diagnosis before Friday, and chose not to share the information with the public.
Trump has repeatedly tried to downplay the severity of his own condition. In addition to Trump's own tweets that he is "feeling well," the White House has rolled out a series of photo-ops showing Trump working from Walter Reed Medical Center. On Sunday, Trump left the hospital against doctors' advice to go for a car ride.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.