By Abbey Delk
COVID-19 has reached the White House. President Donald Trump revealed early Friday morning that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
In a tweet on Friday, October 2 sent at 12:54 a.m., Trump said that both he and the First Lady had begun the quarantine process. “We will get through this TOGETHER,” he reassured his Twitter followers.
However, by Friday afternoon, Trump was transported via helicopter to Walter Reed National Medical Center to receive antiviral drugs and more close attention from doctors, according to the New York Times. Since then, the public has received conflicting pictures of the president’s current condition.
Dr. Sean Conley said in a statement that Trump “is improving,” but White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was less optimistic about the president’s health. “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” said Meadows. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
According to two anonymous sources close to the president who spoke separately to the New York Times, Trump had difficulty breathing before moving to Walter Reed on Friday. This prompted his doctors to administer supplemental oxygen to the president before transferring him to the hospital “where he could be monitored with better equipment and treated more rapidly in case of trouble,” according to the Times. Conley has said publicly that Trump is not currently on supplemental oxygen at Walter Reed but did not comment on whether the president had received it before arriving at the hospital, according to the Times. When asked why the president was moved to Walter Reed, Conley responded, “Because he’s the president of the United States.”
Trump, for his part, has displayed optimism about his health and recovery. “Doing well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!” he tweeted late on Friday night from the hospital.
However, some medical experts express concern that Trump may be especially vulnerable to the virus. Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston called Trump’s diagnosis “a nightmare,” according to 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,” Faust explained.
Conley has also implied that the president received his coronavirus diagnosis earlier than Friday morning. He said publicly on Friday that Trump was “just 72 hours into the diagnosis now,” meaning that the president would have been diagnosed by midday on Wednesday, September 30. This raises concerns that the president might have risked exposing others to the virus at campaign events on Wednesday night and Thursday, where he did not wear a mask, according to the New York Times.
It is possible that the president was exposed to the coronavirus or, if he was already positive, exposed others to the virus at the announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which took place in the White House Rose Garden. At least seven people at the event have since tested positive for COVID-19, including former White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, according to USA Today. It is also possible, though not confirmed, that the president was exposed to the virus by his advisor Hope Hicks, who also tested positive for the coronavirus and was not at the Rose Garden event, according to USA Today. The exact cause of Trump’s contraction of the virus remains uncertain.
Trump’s diagnosis would have come less than 24 hours after facing former Vice President Joe Biden in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. Biden and his wife have both since tested negative for COVID-19. In a tweet on Friday, Biden said, “I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands.”