US President Donald Trump reportedly wondered aloud to friends if he would die from COVID-19, and only agreed to go to the hospital on Friday after his doctors said that he could either voluntarily go while he could still walk, or he would be taken there in a wheelchair or stretcher if his condition worsened, according to a Saturday report.
Trump was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Friday after he tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to the report by Vanity Fair, the president mused aloud if he was “going out like Stan Chera,” a real estate developer friend of his who died of COVID-19.
The president agreed to go to the hospital amid reports that he required an oxygen supplement in the White House Friday and after being told by his medical team that he would be carried or rolled there if he lost the ability to walk, according to the report.
The president’s medical team at Walter Reed Medical Center said Saturday that he was breathing well on his own and was not receiving supplementary oxygen.
The president went through a “very concerning” period Friday and faces a “critical” next two days in his fight against COVID-19, his chief of staff said Saturday, in contrast to the rosier assessment moments earlier by his doctors.
Trump offered his own assessment Saturday evening in a video from the hospital, saying he was beginning to feel better and hoped to “be back soon.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020
In an update on the president Saturday night, his chief doctor expressed cautious optimism but added that the president was “not yet out of the woods.”
The changing, and at times contradictory, accounts created a credibility crisis for the White House at a crucial moment, with the president’s health and the nation’s leadership on the line. With Trump expected to remain hospitalized several more days and the presidential election looming, his condition is being anxiously watched by Americans.
Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide and killed more than 200,000 people in the US.
Despite the pandemic, the president has continued to hold large rallies and refrained from wearing a mask in public and has even denigrated his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, for often wearing one.
In the hospital video, Trump defended his decision to continue campaigning and holding large events in the midst of a pandemic.
“I had no choice,” said Trump of his refusal to abide by basic public health recommendations. “I had to be out front … I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe. … As a leader, you have to confront problems.”
Trump’s administration has been less than transparent with the public throughout the pandemic, both about the president’s health and the virus’ spread inside the White House. The first word that a close aide to Trump had been infected came from the media, not the White House. And aides have repeatedly declined to share basic health information, including a full accounting of the president’s symptoms, what tests he’s undertaken and the results.