Doctors: Trump improving but on steroids after oxygen levels dropped

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump’s condition has “continued to improve,” his doctor said on Sunday, but announced that his oxygen levels dropped the previous day and he is therefore now receiving a steroid treatment.

This was the second drop in oxygen levels since the president became ill with the new coronavirus, but doctors said they were still considering discharging him as soon as Monday.

In what appeared to be a show of strength to supporters, and despite likely still being infectious, Trump briefly left the hospital.

Wearing a mask and sitting in the back seat of a black government vehicle, Trump was driven past fans gathered outside the medical centre and waived at them. The person visible in the passenger seat was wearing full protective gear.

The president announced the surprise move in a video – his third since he tested positive, and second since he was hospitalized – that was released just as his motorcade was making the drive.

“I’m about to make a little surprise visit,” Trump said, wearing a suit without a tie and standing up. “I learned a lot about COVID… This is the real school. I get it and I understand it.”

The White House said the drive was approved by the medical team “as safe to do.”

Trump’s medical team was more forthcoming about some information in their latest update to the public, saying the president received supplemental oxygen on Friday for about an hour, after his levels dipped.

It was later that same day that he was moved from the White House to Walter Reed medical centre outside Washington.

The president has been fever-free since Friday morning, the medical team said at a press briefing in front of the military hospital.

“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,” said Brian Garibaldi, a lung specialist who is part of the team.

The president’s oxygen dropped to 93 per cent saturation on Saturday. Garibaldi said the low levels led the medical team to put Trump on Dexamethasone, the steroid.

Sean Conley, the president’s physician, could not say whether Trump was again given supplemental oxygen but insisted the levels were back up to normal levels.

The briefing came on the back of confusion created Saturday by the White House, after chief of staff Mark Meadows said that Trump’s vital signs had been “very concerning,” seeming to contradict the medical team who said he was improving.

Conley admitted that his very optimistic briefing on Saturday had given an impression that the medical team was not being fully honest.

“It came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true,” Conley said.

Alyssa Farah, a White House spokesman, told Fox News that medics wanted to put forward a rosy picture but insisted no incorrect information was ever pushed out to the public.

“You want to convey confidence and raise the spirits of the person you are treating,” Farah said, vowing “to be transparent and give you all the facts.” Meadows, she said, was accurately reflecting what was only a brief period of concern.

Trump was diagnosed on Thursday with the new coronavirus, throwing his reelection campaign into a tailspin, with just 30 days to go until the November vote.

The team has been trying to put forward a sense of normalcy, even with the key character in hospital. Campaign manager Bill Stepien is among a number of people in Trump’s inner circle to have contracted the coronavirus in the past week.

Jason Miller, a campaign adviser, was pressed on ABC’s “This Week” about the president often refusing to wear a mask and holding large rallies, insisting that Trump has taken the virus “very seriously.”

Miller attacked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for using masks as a “prop.” The comment signalled that the Trump campaign was not changing its messaging heading into the final stretch.

Part of the White House’s talking point now is that Trump had to show leadership during the pandemic and put himself in harm’s way by not hunkering down. He is facing criticism over not wearing masks in public and holding large events.

Biden, who curtailed his campaign back in March and is holding very few events, generally is seen in public wearing a mask.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told broadcaster CBS that he expected Trump would remain in hospital for “a period of time.” O’Brien noted that day seven and eight after the onset of symptoms are the “critical days” for any patient.

The security adviser ruled out the need to move towards a transfer of power within the federal government, saying Trump remained firmly in control of operations.

On top of the steroid, the president received an antibody cocktail at the very onset of his illness, and is on a five-day treatment course of Remdesivir, a therapeutic.

Source: GNA

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