President Donald Trump is “doing very well” after his first night at Walter Reed Medical Center where he is being treated for the coronavirus, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said Saturday.
But a White House aide, who refused to include their name, told members of the White House press pool that the president’s condition may been more serious than the physicians suggested. The pool is a small group of reporters who travel with the president on behalf of all the news outlets who cover the White House.
“The President’s vitals over last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” the aide said in a statement to the press pool that but not directly to NBC News. “We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
A source familiar with the President’s condition said some of the same to NBC News on Saturday: “Some the President’s vitals signs Friday morning were early indicators of the potential for progression beyond mild illness.”
The assessment was a stark contrast to Conley’s assessment.
The president has been fever free for 24 hours; is not currently receiving supplemental oxygen and has normal organ function, Conley said, adding he is “cautiously optimistic.”
It was unclear whether the aide or the president’s physician had more update information.
Trump broke an extended silence on Twitter on Saturday, writing to praise medical professionals, adding, “With their help, I am feeling well!”
Conley declined to predict when Trump might discharged. He will be on a five-day course of an experimental drug treatment, the doctors said.
The doctors said Trump had a cough, nasal congestion, and fatigue on Thursday, symptoms that have since begun improving and resolving. They also suggested he received an antibody treatment on Thursday morning.
Trump told his doctors, “I feel like I could walk out of here today,” the doctors said.
The White House also tried to clear up confusion set off from the briefing over when Trump became ill.
Standing outside Walter Reed, the president’s doctors said he was “72 hours into the diagnosis,” even though Trump had only announced his positive coronavirus test late Thursday evening, after attending a fundraiser in New Jersey. Another doctor treating the president, Dr. Brian Garibaldi, said had been treated “48 hours” ago — Thursday morning — with antibodies.
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Video: Trump’s doctor says president is 72 hours into Covid diagnosis (NBC News)
But a White House official later disputed the timeline, saying Trump had been diagnosed Thursday night and that the doctors meant Trump was on “day 3” not a full 72 hours in on his diagnosis.
The official also said that the antibody treatment was given later Thursday night, not a full 48 hours ago.
On Saturday afternoon, Conley issued a statement through the White House saying Trump had been diagnosed on Thursday night, and given the antibody treatment on Friday.
“I incorrectly used the term ‘seventy-two hours’ instead of ‘day three’ and ‘forty eight hours’ instead of ‘day two’ with regards to his diagnosis and the administration of the polyclonal antibody therapy,” Conley said in a statement.
Conley wasn’t the doctor who said Trump had been given antibodies 48 hours ago, though; Garibaldi said that.
Reporters pressed Conley about whether the president has ever received supplemental oxygen and Conley persistently said the president had not received oxygen on Thursday or while at Walter Reed on Friday and Saturday.
Conley said the president asked about the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment. Trump has championed the drug, despite little evidence it can treat the coronavirus. Conley said they discussed it but have not prescribed it to the president.
Conley and a team of doctors briefed reporters at 11 a.m. at the military hospital where the president is being treated for the coronavirus infection.
The president was transported by helicopter to the Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Friday, following a positive coronavirus test late Thursday night.
Asked about the hospitalization, Conley said the decision was made “because he’s the president of the United States.”
The White House had previously said the president was experiencing mild symptoms, noting that the move to the military hospital was a “precautionary measure” and that the president would continue working from offices located in the facility.
Trump is one of the more than 410,000 Americans who have been hospitalized in the U.S. because of the deadly virus, according to data from The Covid Tracking Project. The U.S. has had more than 7 million confirmed cases and more than 200,000 deaths.
The White House released several statements from Conley on Friday. In one statement, Conley said Trump was “doing very well,” and had decided to begin treatment with the experimental drug called remdesivir.
Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral therapy that has been shown to help those with severe cases of the coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday, after negative tests on Friday; Pence remains at his residence in the Naval Observatory.
First lady Melania Trump, who also contracted the coronavirus, remains in the White House residence.
“Mrs. Trump is doing well. Her symptoms have not worsened and she continues to rest. She remains in touch with her husband. She is thinking of all who are ill and wishes them a speedy recovery,” said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff, said in a statement.
The president, who has been unusually quiet on Twitter during his illness, tweeted Friday night: “Going well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!”