Just how sick is President Trump?
It’s the question that has put the entire world — and the wildest election campaign in living memory — on hold, ever since Friday when Trump tweeted that he and his wife, Melania, had both tested positive to coronavirus.
Confusion and concern only deepened on Saturday when out of what was described as “an abundance of caution” the president walked under his own power to his personal Marine One helicopter to make the short journey to Washington’s Walter Reed Medical Center
This was heightened by a suggestion by Trump’s doctor that he was diagnosed some 36 hours before the announcement, revelations the president had been given supplemental oxygen, and an unnamed White House official reportedly told pool reporters that the 74 year old president was “not on a clear road to recovery”.
On Sunday, however, his personal physician Sean Conley released a statement saying that Trump “remains fever-free and off supplemental oxygen, with a saturation level between 96% and 98% all day”.
“While not yet out of the woods, the team remains cautiously optimistic”, he said.
The message from President Trump, meanwhile, couldn’t be clearer: I’m going to be fine.
On Sunday morning local time The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine, currently on secondment to the New York Post, broke the story that former New York City mayor and close Trump confidante had spoken to the president.
“If you can judge by the way he speaks, he sounded like vintage Donald Trump,” Giuliani told Devine.
“You go tell people I’m watching this coverage”, Trump told Giuliani, referring to conflicting reports about his health.
“I feel I could get out of here right now. But they’re telling me there can always be a backstep with this disease. But I feel I could go out and do a rally.
“I am the president of the United States. I can’t lock myself in a room. … I had to confront (the virus) so the American people stopped being afraid of it so we could deal with it responsibly.
“We have made tremendous progress on treating this disease. Fatality rates are very low compared to (the beginning).
“I’m going to beat this,” he said.
Trump underlined this later Sunday morning, Sydney time, when the president released a video from Walter Reed Medical Centre, which has a full presidential suite to allow any sitting commander-in-chief to continue work while undergoing treatment.
In the video he even managed a joke about First Lady Melania Trump’s health, noting that age is one of the main risk factors for the coronavirus.
“Melania is really handling it very nicely as you’ve probably read, she is slightly younger than me just a little tiny bit”, Trump said.
“And therefore, we know the disease, we know the situation with age versus younger people and Melania is handling it statistically like it’s supposed to be handled and that makes me very happy.”
While at Walter Reed, Trump has been receiving a number of treatments, including ones which could pave the way to new therapies that may not necessitate the invention of a vaccine to end the pandemic.
According to Trump’s doctors, the president has been put on a five day course of the antiviral drug Remdesivir, as well as melatonin, vitamin D, and zinc.
On Friday, doctors also administered an experimental antiviral cocktail made by pharmaceutical company Regeneron.
Regeneron aims to recreate synthetically antibodies against COVID-19 which attach to the surface protein of the virus and attempt to stop it from infecting other cells in patients.
Last month Science magazine reported that an early study with the treatment found that it was very helpful in treating patients who were asymptomatic to moderately ill, suggesting that it could be administered to patients who test positive to prevent them from becoming sicker.
With less than a month to Election Day, the president’s coronavirus infection could barely have occurred at a more delicate moment.
President Trump’s political style has long relied on large in-person rallies, and the Trump campaign had planned to crisscross the country hitting key swing states such as Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin.
All that is now on hold as the campaign moves to a virtual mode.
“The campaign office remains open and our nationwide team will continue with our efforts to re-elect President Trump,” campaign manager Bill Stepien, who has also tested positive for the virus, told Trump staffers in a memo.
For his part, the Biden campaign – which remains ahead in the polls despite an anaemic campaign style which has seen its candidate hold few if any public events most days – is soldiering on, though with Trump’s illness dominating the headlines it is likely to remain largely out of the news.
Speaking in Michigan, Biden told an audience that coronavirus precautions were important.
“Be patriotic. It’s not about being a tough guy, it’s about doing your part,” the former vice-president, who has tested negative to COVID-19, said.
Biden’s campaign also pledged to take the high road, suspending negative campaign ads while the president recovers, though commentators in the US have noted that on Facebook, his team is still running ads saying that Donald Trump will take away Americans’ health care.
THE OVAL INFECTION
A risky White House reception where more than 100 guests mingled and hugged with little to no social distancing is now in the spotlight, with at least seven high-profile attendees later testing positive for COVID-19.
A journalist who covered the event also has the virus, taking total infections to eight.
The September 26 ceremony marking President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Justice pick Amy Coney Barrett (pictured) has been labelled a potential “superspreader” event.
President Trump and his wife Melania are among the attendees of the Rose Garden ceremony who are now ill.
Republican senator Mike Lee, who was filmed hugging guests while not wearing a mask, has also tested positive.
Senator Lee said he was tested “out of an abundance of caution” after displaying symptoms “consistent with longtime allergies”.
His Senate colleague and fellow attendee Thom Tillis also tested positive. On Saturday he said was asymptomatic.
Former senior adviser to the President Kellyanne Conway tested positive but said her symptoms were “mild”.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced he had tested positive. He checked himself into hospital yesterday following consultation with doctors as he suffers from asthma.
University of Notre Dame president John Jenkins also tested positive for COVID-19.
There have been more cases among Trump’s inner circle, including top adviser Hope Hicks and campaign manager Bill Stepien. A personal assistant has also tested positive.
Source: Daily Telegraph