Regarding the President’s current health status, things aren’t looking all that different than they did when we checked in over the weekend. There are still unconfirmed suggestions that President Trump could be released from Walter Reed as soon as today, but that’s still far from certain as of this morning. The pattern that I noted yesterday has continued, however. There seems to be more of a food fight going on over the optics of Donald Trump’s current diagnosis and the political ramifications than the actual health of the patient in question. The President’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, has turned into the ringmaster of a very poorly run circus and he’s feeding a media frenzy that’s breaking down along predictable partisan lines.
Before we start digging into that hot mess, let’s look at the latest update from the Associated Press and Trump’s most recent video offering his own observations on the experience. As far as the AP goes, they’re trying to sort through the things we think we know and the details that we definitely still don’t know.
WHAT WE KNOW: TRUMP’S MEDICAL CONDITION
Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, said Trump was given a steroid dexamethasone after his blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days, but he “has continued to improve” since then. Conley said Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as early as Monday.
Conley said Trump had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94% on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday…
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: TRUMP’S MEDICAL CONDITION
Trump’s medical team continued to dodge many questions Sunday, such as the specific timing of the president’s dip in oxygen and the impact of the disease on his lungs.
Asked repeatedly about what lung scan tests found and whether there have been any signs of pneumonia or other damage, Conley responded: “We’re tracking all of that. There’s some expected findings but nothing of any major clinical concern.”
And here’s the President’s latest video from the hospital. He’s still grateful for all of the prayers and support but claims that having COVID has been an educational experience.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2020
I read through all of the medical questions that Allahpundit raised yesterday regarding which medicines the President has been given, when he got them, and if those decisions signal good news or worrisome warnings. I’ll just be honest with you here. I’m not a doctor and I have no idea which one of the army of supposed medical experts giving their various hot takes to CNN and Fox News are right or wrong. All through this pandemic, we’ve heard from medical authorities around the world who were arguing with each other about how to deal with this virus and how infected patients progressed through their treatment. No matter which analysis you prefer, you can find some doctors out there willing to support your personal favorite. My own theory is that the virus is actually some sort of Artificial Intelligence that keeps switching up what it does just to mess with our heads.
From an uneducated layman’s perspective, I’ll just say that Trump’s voice sounds fairly normal and strong in his videos. He doesn’t look or sound like somebody with any serious degradation of his lungs and he seems to be getting around pretty well. But as I said, I’m no doctor. Your mileage may vary. What I do know, however, is that Dr. Conley is not handling these press conferences well at all. He’s continued to be evasive when asked specific questions which only feeds more fuel to the firestorm of speculation going on in the media. And let’s not pretend that this has anything to do with HIPAA privacy guidelines. Presidents (and presidential candidates) pretty much give up their privacy about their medical records the moment they step into the spotlight. And neither the President nor his doctors have invoked any sort of privacy issues when discussing this situation.
So if it’s not a privacy issue, why is Conley being so coy when he’s asked about things like supplemental oxygen or the last time Trump had a negative test? As I wrote over the weekend, he answers questions more like a politician who just got caught sexting with his secretary than a physician reporting medical facts about his patient. We could save the country a lot of angst if he would just spit out the facts and get away from the lectern before he jams his foot in his mouth again. All he’s doing is feeding grist to the ongoing media rumor mill.
None of this is slowing down the media in their efforts to alternately claim that Trump is close to being on death’s doorstep or he’s recklessly endangering everyone around him. When he went for a spin in a Secret Service SUV to wave to all the people who came out to support him (while wearing a mask and with the windows rolled up, by the way), CNN quickly turned him into Typhoid Mary again.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is suggesting Trump has “severe” COVID. I’m not sure where they obtained the “stages of COVID” scale and where “severe” falls on it. The faux doctors at Vox were on the borderline of cheering for a more serious diagnosis and the imminent collapse of the President’s health. The Los Angeles Times takes a similar tone, suggesting that the “powerful drug” prescribed for the President is indicative of “more serious symptoms” that we’re not being told about.
It’s not unreasonable to suspect that Donald Trump is painting the sunniest picture of his situation possible. The guy doesn’t want to send the country into a panic and leave them wondering if he might not pull through. But as I said, he clearly doesn’t look like he’s camping on death’s doorstep at this point and he sounds pretty upbeat. That doesn’t mean that things might not take a turn for the worse by this weekend, but we should probably all just remain positive, keep the First Family in our prayers, and hope for the best. Trump has spent the last three and a half years confounding the low expectations of his most vocal critics. Don’t be shocked if he does it again and ends up shaking off this virus like a duck coming out of the water.