Republican Senate Majority Leader McConnell says confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee will proceed as planned.
Donald Trump’s doctor said on Saturday that the US president is “doing very well”, but a source familiar with Trump’s health has warned that the next 48 hours will be critical in his COVID-19 treatment.
Speaking to reporters outside the Walter Reed Medical Center, a military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr Sean Conley said Trump has been “fever-free for 24 hours” after he had a mild cough, nasal congestion and fatigue on Thursday.
“This morning, the president is doing very well,” Conley said.
“At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” said Conley, who added that he recommended moving Trump to the medical centre “as a precautionary measure to provide state-of-the-art monitoring and any care that he may need”.
Despite White House assurances, the president’s move to the hospital on Friday evening raised questions about the seriousness of his condition, and it has fuelled a sense of uncertainty for many in the United States.
An unnamed source familiar with the president’s health told reporters Saturday that Trump was “still not on a clear path to a full recovery”, according to a read-out from the White House press pool.
“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,” the source said.
The US president thanked his medical team in a tweet on Saturday afternoon and said he was “feeling well”.
“Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!” Trump wrote.
White House officials said late on Friday that Trump would be working from the hospital for the “next few days”.
In a statement put out by the White House on behalf of Conley on Saturday afternoon, the doctor clarified his earlier statements to the press after they raised new questions about when Trump actually tested positive for COVID-19.
The president was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday evening, the statement said, and he received an antibody cocktail on Friday.
Conley had earlier told reporters that Trump received the first dose of a five-day course of remdesivir, a drug known to help patients recover from the virus. He also said the president had not received supplemental oxygen on Saturday, Friday or Thursday.
However, The Associated Press news agency and The New York Times reported that Trump received supplemental oxygen at the White House on Friday before going to the hospital.
“Right now, all indicators are that he’ll remain off of oxygen going forward,” said Conley, adding “there’s no cause for concern”.
Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020
Still, many observers questioned the many unclear, and sometimes contradictory, statements that have been made over the past days about Trump’s symptoms, treatment and condition.
Eric Topol, a medical researcher and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, wrote in TIME Saturday accused the president’s medical team of engaging in a “deliberate under-transmission of important information”.
Topol said Conley “was quite evasive” in his news conference Saturday, failing to answer important questions.
“He would not answer repeated questions about whether the president had received supplemental oxygen at any point. He would not speak to the results of any lung scan, which would very likely have been done. He would not even tell us how high Trump’s fever had spiked,” Topol wrote.
“These are all reasonable things for the American public to know when their president is in the clutches of a potentially fatal disease, especially with an election only weeks away.”
Indeed, Trump’s hospitalisation has thrown the US presidential election campaign into uncertainty, as the Republican leader has had to postpone scheduled events.
It is also unclear whether upcoming debates between Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, will be held.
Meanwhile, attention turned on Saturday to a number of Trump administration officials and Republican politicians who have also tested positive for COVID-19.
On Saturday morning, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin announced that he tested positive. “Senator Johnson feels healthy and is not experiencing any symptoms,” a statement from his office said.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, also Republicans, also tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
US First Lady Melania Trump, Trump’s top aide Hope Hicks and former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway also tested positive for the disease, as did the president of Notre Dame University, John Jenkins.
His son, Donald Trump Jr, tweeted on Saturday that he had tested negative. “I’ll give it a few more days out of and abundance of caution and test again and if I’m clear I’ll be back to work asap,” he wrote.
Many of those infected attended a White House event where Trump announced his nominee to the US Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, on September 26. The Washington Post reported that about 150 people were at that event.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also said Saturday that he tested positive for COVID-19 and would be receiving medical attention.
US news outlet The Hill reported that Christie attended the ceremony for Barrett, where he was seen “interacting closely with others in the Rose Garden without a mask”, and then interacted closely with Trump last week ahead of the president’s first debate.
I just received word that I am positive for COVID-19. I want to thank all of my friends and colleagues who have reached out to ask how I was feeling in the last day or two. I will be receiving medical attention today and will keep the necessary folks apprised of my condition.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) October 3, 2020
Trump has downplayed the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic from the outset, even as the disease has killed more than 200,000 people in the US and hammered the country’s economy.
As recently as Wednesday, Trump has said the worst of the pandemic is in the past.
He has mostly refused to abide by basic public health guidelines – including those issued by his own administration – such as wearing face coverings in public and practising social distancing.
Until he tested positive, he continued to hold campaign rallies that drew thousands of often maskless supporters.