US President Donald Trump’s condition on Friday after testing positive for the coronavirus was far worse than was publicly acknowledged, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said late Saturday.
“He’s made unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning, when I know a number of us, the doctor and I, were very concerned,” Meadows told Fox News in an interview.
“I can tell you this the biggest thing we see is with no fever now, and with him doing really well with his oxygen saturation levels,” he adds. “Yesterday morning we were really concerned by that. He had a fever, and his oxygen level had dropped rapidly. Yet in typical style, this president was up and walking around.”
Meadows said there was never a risk Trump would have to hand over power to US Vice President Mike Pence, after a day of conflicting reports and confusion over the American leader’s actual fitness.
His comments echoed remarks by White House doctor Sean Conley, who said Trump had “made substantial progress since diagnosis, and remained “fever-free and off supplemental oxygen.”
Late Saturday, Conley said Trump was “not yet out of the woods,” but that the medical team is “cautiously optimistic.”
Conley was evasive when asked earlier whether the president had received supplementary oxygen at any point since falling ill, only confirming that he hadn’t received any at the hospital or on Thursday — the day of his positive test.
Several US media outlets said Trump was on oxygen at the White House on Friday before being admitted to Walter Reed.
Conley added to the confusion by suggesting that Trump had been diagnosed on Wednesday — not on Thursday, per the official account — but he later said he had misspoken.
Soon after Trump arrived at the hospital, Conley said in a memo the president was starting a course of remdesivir and had received an eight-gram dose of an experimental antibody cocktail.
Neither Trump’s doctors nor the White House explained why the president was taking unproven drugs if his progress was satisfactory.
The US president was also reported to wonder aloud if he would die from the virus.
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe Trump likely would not have contracted COVID-19 if he had taken the coronavirus pandemic more seriously, according to a poll released Sunday.
Asked “if President Trump had taken coronavirus more seriously, he probably would not have been infected,” 65 percent of respondents to the Reuters/Poll poll agreed. Among registered Democrats, nine in ten said they agreed, while five out 10 Republicans did.
Overall, 57% said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
The poll also had Democratic challenger Joe Biden opening up a 10 point percentage lead over Trump ahead of the presidential elections on November 3, suggesting no increase in support for the US president after he tested positive.
On Saturday, Trump posted a video Saturday from the hospital where he is battling COVID-19, saying he was improving and would be “back soon” — but acknowledged that the crucial coming days would be “the real test.”
“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well. I feel much better now,” Trump, 74, said from his business suite at the Walter Reed military medical center near Washington.
“We’re working hard to get me all the way back… I think I’ll be back soon and I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started.”
Appearing relaxed in an open-collar shirt and blue suit jacket, Trump acknowledged there was uncertainty about the course of the disease, which can hit recovering patients hard with no warning.
“I’m starting to feel good. You don’t know over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020
Trump’s wife also tested positive but he said her symptoms were not as bad as his own.
Trump’s optimism over his recovery prospects has been tempered by news that more people close to the president have tested positive for the coronavirus.
They included campaign adviser Chris Christie, who was among several aides who helped Trump prepare for the first presidential debate who have since announced positive tests.
Christie and a number of senators and Trump aides are also among a growing list from the president’s orbit to have tested positive after attending an event in the White House Rose Garden last weekend.
The so-called “White House cluster” includes close confidante Hope Hicks, former White House top aide Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien and Republican senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee. Another close aide, Nicholas Luna, one of the “body men” who accompanies the president round the clock, had also tested positive, CNN reported.
Heightening the sense of crisis at the heart of power in America, a third Republican senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, announced on Saturday that he had tested positive.