White House says hospitalized Trump on remdesivir, but not supplemental oxygen

US president gets anti-viral drug after earlier receiving experimental treatment; tweets from medical facility that it is ‘going well, I think’; campaign manager tests positive

US President Donald Trump arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 2, 2020, on Marine One helicopter after he tested positive for COVID-19. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is at left. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
US President Donald Trump arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 2, 2020, on Marine One helicopter after he tested positive for COVID-19. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is at left. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

US President Donald Trump was hospitalized Friday and given anti-viral medication following the bombshell news he had contracted coronavirus, knocking him off the campaign trail a month from the US election.

After having not been seen in public since the shock announcement, the president walked out of the White House Friday evening, wearing a mask, and flew by helicopter to the Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington.

“Going well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!” he wrote in his first tweet from the hospital.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was receiving the anti-viral drug remdesivir following consultation with specialists. The president was “not requiring any supplemental oxygen,” she said in a statement late Friday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks with reporters at the White House, Oct. 2, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Earlier, she said that medical experts recommended Trump work from the presidential offices at Walter Reed “for the next few days.”

The hospitalization indicated an intense effort to make sure the president’s reportedly “mild” symptoms do not deteriorate.

The development also highlighted the uncharted waters for the US election on November 3, with Trump — who is well behind his Democratic opponent Joe Biden in the polls — having to freeze much of his campaign.

At first, aides gave rosy assessments, with Trump’s chief of staff saying the president, 74, had only mild symptoms, was in “good spirits” and feeling “very energetic.”

US President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departure from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 2, 2020, as he heads to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after testing positive for Covid-19. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

But later Friday White House physician Sean Conley said Trump received a single dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, a treatment not yet approved by regulators.

“He’s being evaluated by a team of experts, and together we’ll be making recommendations to the President and First Lady in regards to next best steps,” Conley wrote.

In his 70s and technically obese, the president is in a higher-risk category.

The president’s son Donald Trump Jr told Fox News his father was “obviously taking it very seriously, but he’s a fighter.”

Biden out on his own

Trump’s illness upended the White House race, with Biden suddenly finding himself alone on the campaign trail — and able to argue that his more cautious approach to Covid-19 had been vindicated.

Biden has made Trump’s frequent downplaying of the pandemic and mixed messaging on mask-wearing a central campaign theme, while Trump has tried to shift the narrative to areas where he feels stronger, like the economy.

The former vice president, who stood in close proximity to Trump for 90 minutes during their ill-tempered first debate Tuesday, announced that he and his wife Jill tested negative Friday.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 951 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Oct. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Underlining his sudden advantage in the bitter race, Biden, 77, traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, going ahead with a previously scheduled campaign stop.

Biden said he was praying for Trump and his family, and his campaign announced it would take down all negative ads.

However, Biden also reminded voters that he has pushed consistently for taking seriously the coronavirus, which has killed more than 208,000 Americans, unlike his opponent who has mocked the Democrat for his rigorous use of masks.

“Be patriotic,” Biden told supporters in Michigan through a blue surgical mask. “It’s not about being a tough guy. It’s about doing your part.”

Campaign grounded

Trump’s shock diagnosis was a huge blow to his reelection effort, triggering a freeze on plans to barnstorm the country in an attempt to catch up in the polls.

The Trump campaign said all planned events involving the president were either being postponed or going virtual — starting with the cancellation of a Florida rally Friday, one Saturday in Wisconsin and others in western states like Arizona next week.

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Wittman Airport, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Even the second Trump-Biden debate, scheduled for October 15, is now in some doubt.

Rallies are such a key part of the Trump brand that his sudden inability to travel leaves the campaign scrambling to reinvent its strategy. In addition, Trump has made his argument that coronavirus dangers are overblown a central plank of his reelection platform.

Contact tracing

News of Trump’s infection came after one of his closest advisors, Hope Hicks, tested positive — sparking fears of a cluster of cases emanating from the heart of the White House.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020 (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Trump met with dozens of people through the week and reportedly went to a fundraiser in New Jersey after it was known that Hicks had contracted the virus.

The White House said it was carrying out contact tracing, while Melania Trump’s spokeswoman said the couple’s 14-year-old son Barron had tested negative.

Vice President Mike Pence and other senior figures tested negative. The White House said Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was negative too.

Former White House top aid Kellyanne Conway, however, announced late Friday she had tested positive with “mild” symptoms.

Trump’s campaign manager, 42-year-old Bill Stepien, said he had tested positive, US media reported, and was in quarantine with mild symptoms.

In this file photo taken on August 28, 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside US President Donald Trump as he speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

The president of the University of Notre Dame, and at least two Republican lawmakers who were also present at the event — Utah Sen. Mike Lee and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis — announced Friday they too had tested positive and were isolating.

As the news rattled global stock markets, leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Boris Johnson, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin wished the president and first lady a speedy recovery.

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama noted the US is “in the midst of a big political fight” but set aside the bitter election battle to extend “best wishes” to the first family.

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