When I first wrote about the POTUS/COVID story on Friday morning, I assumed this was going to be a medical story that would inevitably have some politics dragged into it. 48 hours later, it’s looking more and more like a political story that’s getting muddled by medical details. I want to address a few of the controversies that have cropped up in a moment, but we should first get to the latest reports on the President’s condition and prognosis that are as close to being “official” as anything I could find. (Associated Press)
President Donald Trump went through a “very concerning” period Friday and faces a “critical” next two days in his fight against COVID-19 at a military hospital, his chief of staff said Saturday — in contrast to a rosier assessment moments earlier by Trump doctors, who took pains not to reveal the president had received supplemental oxygen at the White House before his hospital admission.
Trump remained at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday. He offered his own assessment of his status Saturday evening in a video from his hospital suite, saying he was beginning to feel better and hoped to “be back soon.”
Hours earlier, chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters outside the hospital, “We’re still not on a clear path yet to a full recovery.” In an update Saturday night, Trump’s chief doctor expressed cautious optimism but added that the president was “not yet out of the woods.”
As of this morning, we’re further being told that the President’s temperature had spiked on Friday but has since subsided to normal. But at the same time, medical authorities are reminding us that Trump is taking aspirin, which tends to lower a patient’s temperature and can mask that particular symptom. COVID patients around the country have experienced ups and downs in the early days of showing symptoms and we may need to wait until the seventh to tenth days of being symptomatic (October 9th through 12th) before his doctors have a clear idea which direction the disease will take in his case.
Here’s the video that the President put out last night. He seems to be upbeat, sounding mostly normal, and very grateful for all of the support he’s received from the nation and his medical team.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020
This story has rapidly devolved into a food fight over the timeline of events. When I first read Allahpundit’s article yesterday asking the inevitable questions about ‘what Trump knew (about his medical situation) and when did he know it,’ I found the story rather hard to digest. Either the President’s two primary doctors at Walter Reed (Conley and Garibaldi) are totally incompetent or they’ve been conscripted into some political theater with no experience in that arena to guide them.
Let’s face it. No matter how charitable you want to be toward the President’s team on this issue, the medical staff that was sent out to make an official statement have turned this situation into a tempest. Their initial description of the timeline sounded both typical and professional. As of Saturday morning, they said we were 72 hours into the diagnosis and 48 hours into the Regeneron therapy. Then, when everyone immediately freaked out, they were sent back out to say that actually, they meant “day three and day two.” So 72 hours became 36 hours (shifting from potentially Wednesday afternoon to late Thursday night) and 48 hours became… 24 hours?
Add to that the way Conley kept trying to dodge the question of whether or not the President received supplemental oxygen. He kept saying no, but qualifying the answer by including specific days and times. This wasn’t a question that required any sort of interpretation or nuance. It was a binary choice. Either the patient did or didn’t receive oxygen at some point. By choosing to parse his words in that way, Conley came off sounding like a politician rather than a doctor, and a pretty poor politician at that. None of this exactly instill confidence.
Look, I get why the President and his staff would want to minimize this news as much as possible. The country needs to see the President as being strong and ready to rock. Nobody (aside from a bunch of unhinged liberals) wants to be sitting around wondering if the leader of the free world might be dying, and the thought of Trump with an oxygen mask on would add to those concerns. But having Conley and Garibald botch the presser that badly opened the door for the liberal press to have a field day with this.
Speaking of which, the Washington Post is taking every opportunity to suggest that Trump is the 2020 version of Typhoid Mary, spreading the plague around everywhere from debate prep meetings to fundraisers. You can expect to hear plenty more of that as the days grind on and every reporter on the DC beat turns into an amateur contact tracer, trying to see how many people Trump and his team may have “infected” before Trump even knew he’d tested positive. In other words, what should have been a moment when the nation came together to support the President as he battles a potentially serious health issue, switched gears in less than 36 hours and turned into yet another political crapstorm. But given everything else that’s been going on in 2020, should we really be wearing our shocked faces at this point?