President Donald Trump confirmed in a tweet on the evening of Oct. 1 that he tested positive for the coronavirus, along with first lady Melania Trump.
According to reporting from the New York Times, Trump’s senior advisor Hope Hicks began exhibiting COVID symptoms “around the time of Mr. Trump’s rally” in Duluth, Minnesota on Wednesday, which she attended with the president. Hicks was quarantined while returning to Washington on Air Force One and received positive test results the following day. No details have been provided about if the air in her area of the plane was recycled and filtered throughout the rest of the aircraft.
White House physician and Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley confirmed the diagnosis on Friday in a memo to Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary. Since that announcement, many of Trump’s closest allies — including Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and three GOP senators — have tested positive as well.
The president downplayed the risk of the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic and has rarely been seen wearing a mask in public. Photographs from a Rose Garden event on Sept. 26 for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett show no social distancing measures and limited mask use. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was not wearing a mask, was seen coming into physical contact with other members of the event, including fist-bumping other guests.
A contact tracing analysis by the New York Times revealed that at least 10 people at the event, including Trump, have since tested positive for COVID-19.
On Friday evening, Trump released a short video informing the public that he would be relocated to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was flown by helicopter to the hospital and remains in a specialized presidential suite where he continues to receive medical care.
In the three days since he was diagnosed, the White House has obfuscated details about his condition, including when Trump first tested positive, whether or not he was given oxygen at some point, and the actual state of his medical condition.
Reports on the president’s condition have been conflicting. While medical staff, including Conley, stated in a press briefing on Saturday that they are “extremely happy with the progress that the president has made,” others are more concerned.
On Saturday, just hours after a press briefing where doctors said the president’s vital signs were “normal,” the Washington Post reported that chief of staff Mark Meadows described Trump’s vitals over the previous 24 hours as “very concerning.”
A source close to Trump said the president has had trouble breathing and has been fatigued, according to CNN’s Jim Acosta on Friday. The rapidly developing story and conflicting reports have made it difficult to glean an accurate portrait of the president’s health at this time.
The New York Times also gathered opinions from independent experts, who were not optimistic but praised the decision to transfer the president to Walter Reed Medical Center.
“This is a nightmare,” Dr. Jeremy Faust told the New York Times. “When we first learned about this disease, it was the patients who fit the president’s description who we were most worried about.”
The president is 74 years old and weighs 244 pounds.
Trump’s body mass index, as well as his age, place him in the “increased risk” category for severe complications from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Vice President Mike Pence would assume the office of the President of the United States if Trump succumbs to the virus. If both the president and vice president were to die, House Speaker Nancy Peloci would be next in line, according to the Presidential Succession Act. Pence has tested negative multiple times for the coronavirus since Oct. 1.
At the briefing with medical staff on Saturday, pulmonary physician Dr. Brian Garibaldi revealed that Trump had received a dose of remdesivir, an experimental treatment which has been shown to reduce recovery time for COVID patients in preliminary trials, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Garibaldi added that the team plans to conduct a “five-day treatment course (of) remdesivir” for the president.
The president remains active on Twitter, and has released multiple videos of himself claiming that he is doing well. On Sunday, Trump’s motorcade drove him around the perimeter of the hospital, where he waved to supporters standing on the sides of the road before returning to his hospital room.
Trump’s positive test result also raises a myriad of questions in an election race already beset by uncertainty.
On Sept. 29, Trump attended the first debate of the 2020 presidential race, taking the stage with his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Neither were wearing masks, raising concerns about the former vice president possibly contracting the virus at the event. According to the CDC, “(a)n infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or two days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive.”
Biden later tested negative for the virus.
The CDC also reports that eight out of 10 deaths from the virus are victims who were 65 years of age or older. Both Biden and Trump are over 70 years old.
This is a developing story. Check dailylobo.com for updates.
Liam DeBonis is the photo editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LiamDeBonis