BETHESDA — President Donald Trump declared, “I get it,” in a message to the nation Sunday evening before briefly leaving the hospital to salute cheering supporters from his motorcade, a surprising move that raised new questions about the president’s understanding of the coronavirus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Hours earlier, Trump’s medical team reported that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid treatment typically only recommended for the very sick. The doctors also said his health is improving and that he could be discharged as early as Monday.

“It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID,” Trump said, standing in his hospital room in a video posted on social media. “I learned it by really going to school.”

He added, “I get it, and I understand it.”

Before the video was posted, the infected president cruised by supporters in his bulletproof SUV, windows rolled up, driven by Secret Service agents in protective gear who were potentially exposed to the disease that has swept through the White House in recent days.

“This is insanity,” tweeted Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump has been hospitalized since Friday evening.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die,” the doctor wrote. “For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater.”

Trump’s doctors earlier in the day sidestepped questions about exactly when Trump’s blood oxygen dropped — an episode they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before — or whether lung scans showed any damage.

It was the second straight day of confusion and obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of him condition.

Pressed about conflicting information he and the White House released on Saturday, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley acknowledged that he had tried to present a rosy description of the president’s condition.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had. Didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” Conley said. “And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”

Medical experts said Conley’s revelations were hard to square with the doctor’s upbeat assessment and talk of a discharge.

“There’s a little bit of a disconnect,” said Dr. Steven Shapiro, chief medical and scientific officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

At the same time, Trump’s drive-by greeting was reminiscent of the moment in 2016 when he emerged from Trump Tower in the midst of the Access Hollywood tape scandal to greet his supporters on the street below. But this move potentially exposed several people in his security detail to COVID-19.

According to CDC guidelines, “In general, transport and movement of a patient with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection outside of their room should be limited to medically essential purposes.”

Some Secret Service agents have expressed concern about the lackadaisical attitude toward masks and social distancing inside the White House, but there isn’t much they can do, according to agents and officials who spoke to the AP. This close to the election, thousands of agents are engaged on protective duty so they can be subbed out quickly should someone test positive.

Concern over the drive capped a day that was focused squarely on the president’s health.

Blood oxygen saturation is a key health marker for COVID-19 patients. A normal reading is between 95 and 100. Conley said the president had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94% on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday.

He was evasive about the timing of Trump oxygen drops. (“It was over the course of the day, yeah, yesterday morning,” he said) and asked whether Trump’s level had dropped below 90%, into concerning territory. (“We don’t have any recordings here on that.”) But he revealed that Trump was given a dose of the steroid dexamethasone in response.

At the time of the briefing, Trump’s blood oxygen level was 98% — within normal rage, Trump’s medical team said.

Signs of pneumonia or other lung damage could be detected in scans before a patient feels short of breath, but the president’s doctors declined to say what those scans have revealed.

“There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern,” Conley said. He declined to outline those “expected findings.”

Asked about Conley’s lack of transparency, White House aide Alyssa Farah suggested the doctors were speaking as much to the president as to the American public, “when you’re treating a patient, you want to project confidence, you want to lift their spirits and that was the intent.”

Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, pulled his attack ads off the air during Trump’s hospitalization, and on Sunday, he dispatched senior aides to deliver a largely friendly message.

“We are sincerely hoping that the president makes a very quick recovery, and we can see him back out on the campaign trail very soon,” Biden adviser Symone Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

She added, “This is a glaring reminder that the virus is real.”

Biden was at home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday with no plans for in-person campaigning or other public appearances. Having already tested negative, he is expected to release the results of a new coronavirus test later in the day. His campaign has pledged to disclose those results and all other future test results for the 77-year-old candidate.

Trump’s medical team indicated that his hospital stay could end soon.

“Our plan for today is to have him eat and drink, to be up out of bed as much as possible, to be mobile,” Dr. Brian Garibaldi said. “And if he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House where he can continue his treatment course.”

More than 209,000 Americans have been killed by the virus, by far the highest number of confirmed fatalities in the word. In all, nearly 7.4 million people have been infected in the United States, and few have access to the kind of around-the-clock attention and experimental treatments as Trump.

Trump’s treatment with the steroid dexamethasone is in addition to the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus. Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.

Garibaldi, a specialist in pulmonary critical care, said the president was not showing any side effects of the drugs “that we can tell.”

The National Institutes of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines recommend against using dexamethasone in patients who do not require oxygen. It has only been proven to help in more serious cases. Among the concerns with earlier use is that steroids tamp down certain immune cells, hindering the body’s own ability to fight off infection.

Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications.

First lady Melania Trump has remained at the White House as she recovers from her own bout with the virus.

Several White House officials this weekend expressed frustration with the way level of transparency and public disclosure since the president announced his diagnosis early Friday.

They were particularly upset by the whiplash between Conley’s rosy assessment Saturday and Meadows’ more concerned outlook. They privately acknowledge that the administration has little credibility on COVID-19 and that they have unnecessarily squandered what remains of it with the lack of clear, accurate updates on Trump’s condition.

Many in the White House are also shaken and scared — nervous that they have been exposed to the virus and confronting the reality that what seemed like a bubble of safety has become a COVID-19 hot spot. There has been no mass directive sent to staff on how they should respond.

(50) comments

phydeaux994

Can any on the RRR(RadicalRightRepublican) side explain the mask thing to me? Fact, it is the most effective way the World can slow down the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Fact, it is easy to wear a mask. Fact, the Government MAKES citizens do many things they don’t want to do. We have thousands of laws that do that. Many of the laws are designed to save lives, or to make life safer for all. Some people hate laws like that. But to mandate wearing masks in public to save millions of lives around the World? Why wouldn’t any sane person be happy to make that small sacrifice to save their parents and kids and as many human beings as possible? Donald John Trump is trying to destroy everything that is Sacred in America, starting with human lives, our Government, just common DECENCY! WHY does anyone support that agenda?

threecents

When Trump was elected I said we are now in a post-truth era, where narrative trumps reality. But that could only last as long as people bought into that willful suspension of disbelief. It looks like some people are only now seeing that the emperor has no clothes - not even a hospital gown.

matts853

He’s even making the doctors lie.

Hayduke2

Obiviously, based on past behavior, the need for a political stunt, concealing information from his staff , Trump DOES NOT get it.

Comment deleted.
phydeaux994

Reader1954, there ARE a bunch if pinko commies running the Country behind the figurehead of VLADIMIR PUTIN who has the goods on Donald John Trump. Who the heck do you think is trying to screw up the Elections so he”ll have his puppet for another four years?? As far as Biden goes, he gets the same job that Clinton and Obama got, cleaning up the mess a Republican Administration left behind. You should have figured that out by now. Vote for Biden and America, not for Trump and Russia.

Comment deleted.
Greg F

Wow....you really reached out for that one R54......the go-to banter of the deluded right wing wanker....."commies...it's commies...everywhere...." sounding like you're right out of the McCarthyism era and the "red scare" tactics employed by those nutcases. Guess your moniker shows you're obviously part of that ancient generation where everything and everyone you didn't like had to be a commie ploy. Please....go get some mental help. You need it.

Dwasserba

"Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die,' the doctor wrote." The Secret Service "gets it" - they don't matter. Donald - these are the folks trained to put their lives on the line for YOU. OUTRIGHT NEGLIGENCE

bosco

Were those in the vehicle not wearing masks?[ninja]

public-redux

Are masks 100% effective? Should the president be exposed to someone who was exposed to someone with Covid in a small enclosed space even if they wore a mask during the exposure?

bosco

I thought masks were the answer when you couldn't distance. Is that no longer true now that 45 and everybody in the vehicle was wearing a mask? Can't have it both ways. [ninja]

public-redux

Are you trying to say that Trump had to go for a spin in the car? The doctors refused to let him remain in the hospital? Hahahahaha. Good one. Take a rest after lugging that goalpost.

Hayduke2

Ridiculous argument Bosco- keep pushing buttons!! Nothing is 100% effective. Troll away brother!

threecents

Bosco, Your line that you can't have it both ways is classic. Sorry if this is too nuanced for you, but masks provide partial protection. When you are in a car with someone with an active infection, that person is exhaling viruses. A certain percentage of those viruses will get into the air and circulate in the car. Sorry, but Duh.

bosco

Now, imagine if Obama were to be hospitalized with Covid19. He leaves the hospital in a vehicle, everyone in the vehicle wearing masks, to go for a spin. The headline would probably read "Obama Leaves Hospital To Greet Supporters From The Safety of The Limo" and the MSM would be touting it as a way to show what a great leader and humanitarian he is.

[ninja]

public-redux

bosco, How did Obama get into this convo? Why do you think Trump couldn’t distance by not taking that car ride? That’s your argument. He HAD TO go for a car ride on Sunday evening? Why did he have to?

Comment deleted.
duffy5x

At least Biden isn't a virus-ridden liar.

NewMarketParent

Maybe he meant to say "I got it!". Meaning that he caught the 'VID. It was nice to not require an oracle to understand the ravings of a lunatic in the office of The President of the United States.

Those poor Secret Service agents that have in all likelihood been exposed to the virus via being forced into the hermetically sealed presidential SUV. If he truly has the virus, he probably gave each one of them the virus. We can probably expect them to start dropping off soon. I'm so tired of winning.

Comment deleted.
EBelt

Definite distorted view of reality...plus, it is rich that you and the other die-hard trump worshipers on here are constantly attacking one or two people and given by most of your comments, I gather you are old enough to be my parents, thus grandparents of adult grandchildren. You all act like a bunch of high school brats. No tact and definitely no couth. I truly thought people become wiser with age but I guess that is reserved for those that decidedly continue to educate themselves throughout their lifetimes.

MRS M

I am unsure what "Trump gets". But I do know that America "gets" that the Covid19 illness is not a weekend cold. With 211,000 deaths in 7 months, American's understand Trump has a life-threatening illness, with long term complications that put an older, overweight person with co-morbidities at high risk, and will be causing debilitating side effects for weeks, if not months to come. I say this morning...let Trump "go home". The sooner the better. And as a sidebar, Bob Woodword captured Trump's admission that he lied to America about the severe threat of the disease in order to prevent "panic". He and his team are doing the same now. And this is what American voters "get".

shiftless88

Once again POTUS displays a complete lack of empathy (which is common to many Republicans). He "gets it" now, though he should have "gotten it" last spring. Conservatives seem to not be able to "get" anything unless they are personally impacted. Zero empathy.

Dwasserba

Fauci says it is 10 days before a victim no longer sheds virus, they're still questioning the time of onset, he's pushing to get out now, and he generally gets his way. Back to the house of contagion. MADNESS

jsklinelga

As I scanned the computer this morning I was not paying close attention until I saw the ultra negative comments about the President. Then I checked and I had logged into the FNP site. I now only check the FNP for obituaries and local sports .And for good reason..

public-redux

Is verbal self-flagellation as gratifying as the physical form?

shiftless88

jsk is that guy who declares "I am leaving" and then when no one seems to notice returns to again declare "I am REALLY leaving this time". This is typical for him, though; drop in, make a statement, complain, then leave without responding to questions about the errors in his original statement.

NewMarketParent

@shiftless88

I too announce my presence to people when I desire no attention at all.

Greg F

Yet....here you are.

NewMarketParent

@Greg F

Shhh... be vewy, vewy quiet... he's hunting wabbits....ahahahahaha.

He doesn't want your attention in any way shape or form which is why he came in here to announce that he doesn't come around these parts anymore.

vodalone

Stand by for the obituary of 45.

NewMarketParent

@vodalone

I want him to live!

So that he can get a good view of the inside of a prison while he rots there.

Dwasserba

No! I don't even want to THINK of the cult possibilities then - his image appearing in grilled cheese sandwiches? Sightings mask-free with Elvis? Oh. No. Live to face the day that's coming!

Greg F

I'll be satisfied both when he gets the pink slip on Nov 3rd, and then an indictment after that for the things we all had to wait for him to vacate the office in order to be officially charged.....though he could still be charged, but the chickensh** senate won't do that...ever.

Dwasserba

When a world view gets shaky (1) grab a seat belt (2) wrap it around your eyes

phydeaux994

Come back when you can’t stay so long jsk.👋🏼

public-redux

I like the video that shows him pretending to work by signing a blNk sheet of paper.

MD1756

Maybe it was a "blank check" he was signing.

public-redux

It may have been but I’ll bet it wasn’t on his account.

Greg F

What a colossal dumbazz.

richardlyons

Perhaps the drugs made him delusional? Naaaaah!

NewMarketParent

@richardlyons

Which drugs? Would it be the Aderall or the Oxy or the Bleach that he is shooting to battle COVID or Hydroxychloroquine?

I want proof he is taking Bleach and Hydroxychloroquine.

phydeaux994

Donald John Trump doesn’t care how many lives he puts at risk. Donald John Trump doesn’t care how many die because he infects them. Donald John Trump doesn’t care about anything or anybody except Donald John Trump. That JOY RIDE displays the REAL DONALD JOHN TRUMP, PSYCHOPATH, SOCIOPATH, UNCARING, UNFEELING, OUT OF CONTROL, SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL, UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND HAS HIS FINGER ON THE NUCLEAR BUTTON!! WT_!!!

C.D.Reid

Gee fido, I luv it when you get pi$$ed, it's so cute!

bosco

Watch out for that puddle on the floor, CD. [lol][ninja]

C.D.Reid

[thumbup][thumbup] bosco [lol][lol][lol]

Hayduke2

Why pull another political stunt and drive to wave to his fans. DONE against the docs orders and puts other in danger of being exposed. The man has no empathy for others and pulls stupid stuff like this/ sad.

NewMarketParent

@hayduke2

A clown was elected and boy are we getting a circus.

DickD

What we don't know is what we don't know. Is Trump on drugs to keep a fever down? How low did his oxygen level go? How severe was the infection? Going to Walter Reed and getting oxygen indicates it was at least moderate. What are the long term health of Trump? Many suffer for months, being fagtigued and some have organ and brain damage. Why did they give Trump drugs not approved for everyone? How serious is this to the U.S. national security? Many questions, few answers.

KellyAlzan

And aspirin does bring fever down

MD1756

Dick you ask "How serious is this to the U.S. national security?" I don't think it impacts it at all. What makes you think there would be an impact on our national security? If it did have an impact, it may actually make us more secure for a number of reasons.

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