Enlarge /. A car with U.S. President Trump drives past trailers in a motorcade outside Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 4, 2020.
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After being hospitalized for several days with coronavirus infection and receiving two experimental treatments, supplemental oxygen and a steroid drug that was only used for the most severe COVID-19 cases, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he would leave the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and return to the White House.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, White House Doctor Sean Conley readily admitted that Trump has not yet reached a critical period of his infection – about seven to ten days after symptoms – in which the condition of COVID-19 is Patients can quickly and dramatically worsen overzealous immune responses. Trump is believed to be around the sixth day of his symptomatic infection.
"Although he may not be completely out of the woods yet," Trump's condition has improved and his medical team has cleared him for return to the White House, "where he will be surrounded by world-class medical care around the clock." Conley explained.
Health professionals were quickly taken aback by the decision to fire Trump from Walter Reed, where he was originally believed to have been admitted for surveillance and out of caution. Since then, Conley has shown that Trump has experienced significant COVID-19 symptoms, including low blood oxygen levels. He was also treated with dexamethasone, a steroid anti-inflammatory drug that is recommended only for severe COVID-19 cases that require mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen, according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.
“So, 'caution' was replaced by 'throwing caution to the wind and putting your middle finger up while you're at it,'” said Esther Choo, doctor and professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. wrote in a tweet.
Experts were also appalled by the rest of Trump's Monday afternoon tweet, in which he urged Americans, "Don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life."
At the time of his tweet, the country was nearing 7.5 million cases and 210,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a global public health crisis of historic proportions.
Trump's surprise discharge from the hospital is just the latest drama about his condition and treatment, surrounded by contradictions and obscurations, since Trump exposed his infection in the wee hours of last Friday morning.
The country first learned that Trump was infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from one of his tweets in which he said he and the first lady had tested positive on Thursday evening. However, that schedule has been challenged after two doctors said the president's doctor on Saturday he tested positive on Wednesday and started experimental treatment on Thursday.
Conley – one of the doctors who suggested the alternate timeline – quickly went back to his testimony, saying it was a mistake and Trump tested the first positive Thursday. However, media reports quoting sources close to the president said Trump had symptoms on Wednesday and tested positive earlier than he originally said.
In addition to the murky timeline, Conley was able to evade questions about Trump's condition. For example, on Saturday he repeatedly tried to dodge questions about whether Trump needed supplemental oxygen and instead tried to paint a rosy picture. However, on Sunday he admitted that the president had actually been given supplemental oxygen. He explained his cover-up by saying that he was "trying to reflect the optimistic attitude of the team, the president and his illness."
Conley has also refused to provide any information on whether Trump's lung scans showed damage from COVID-19 and what his fever was. He has also repeatedly dodged questions about when Trump was last tested negative for the coronavirus, which has sparked speculation about the timing of his illness. Today, Monday, Conley also declined to answer questions about how Trump can prevent the infection from spreading further in the White House once he's released from the hospital.
Amid the unanswered questions, Conley has provided a confusing picture of the state of the president. He says that he is "doing very well" and is in a good mood. At the same time, it shows that Trump quickly started two experimental treatments – an experimental cocktail of monoclonal antibodies. and the antiviral remdesivir. Both are still in clinical trials, but early data suggests that both could speed recovery from coronavirus infection.
On Sunday, Conley announced that Trump had experienced another drop in his blood oxygen levels on Saturday and was receiving dexamethasone – usually only for severe and critical COVID-19 patients. But later that day, Trump was allowed to leave the hospital for a short drive past trailers stationed outside the hospital. Health experts and secret service agents were appalled by the drive, which they described as a “joy ride” and a publicity stunt that endangered the agents in the car with him.
One aspect of Trump's infection that is not confusing is how he came to contract the virus. Trump and his administration have consistently downplayed the pandemic and failed to take public health measures such as distancing and wearing masks seriously. An ever increasing number of White House-related cases has emerged following Trump's infection.
The White House outbreak makes Trump's Monday tweet even more breathtaking. Despite his grave condition, use of experimental drugs, and exceptional access to world-class medical care, Trump continued to downplay the virus and its effects. He ended his tweet by saying, "I feel better than 20 years ago!" However, experts note that the feeling may simply be a side effect of the powerful steroid he is getting into, which often leads to mania.