1/ At a news conference at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday, doctors provided few medical details, but on Sunday doctors disclosed that Trump’s condition was more serious than the White House had acknowledged. On Saturday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said Trump was “doing very well,” that his fever had subsided, his symptoms were improving, and that he wasn’t receiving supplemental oxygen. Trump reportedly told doctors, “I feel like I could walk out of here today.”

2/ Minutes after Saturday’s news conference, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Trump’s “vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical,” adding that “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.” Meadows’s remarks were attributed to “a person familiar with the president’s health” in a pool report sent to White House journalists, but video shows Meadows approaching pool reporters outside Walter Reed following the briefing and asking to speak off the record, making clear who the unnamed source was. Trump was reportedly “furious” with Meadows after he offered a more dire assessment and contradicted Dr. Conley’s assessment.

3/ On Sunday, Dr. Conley said Trump’s “oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94%” – a level that can indicate that a patient’s lungs are compromised – and that Trump had been prescribed dexamethasone, a steroid used to head off an immune system overreaction that kills many COVID-19 patients. The National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization both recommend dexamethasone for patients on supplemental oxygen or ventilators. Doctors also repeatedly ignored questions about the results of Trump’s CT scans and advanced imaging, only saying they had seen “expected findings.”

4/ Dr. Conley attempted to address the contradictory statements that had come from him and Meadows on Saturday, telling reporters “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. In doing so, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.” Conley also said his comments were meant to reflect the “upbeat attitude” of the White House. White House communications director Alyssa Farah, meanwhile, said Dr. Conley withheld details about Trump’s medical condition in order to “convey confidence” and “raise the spirits” of the president.

Sources: Politico / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / BuzzFeed News / New York Times / Axios / BuzzFeed News / Reuters / New York Times / NBC News / Politico / (Axios / CNN / USA Today / Politico / Washington Post / Washington Post / Washington Post / ABC News / The Guardian / Axios / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNBC / Wall Street Journal

  • Trump’s COVID-19 Timeline:

  • Wednesday: Trump traveled to Minnesota for a rally; Hope Hicks started to have symptoms and was isolated in the back of the plane on the return flight.

  • Thursday: Hicks tested positive; Trump left the White House for a fundraiser with hundreds of supporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.; Trump tested positive from a rapid test at some point Thursday; Trump confirmed on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News that Hicks had tested positive; hours later Trump and Melania Trump announced that they had tested positive following the results from a PCR test.

  • Friday: Trump had a fever and his oxygen saturation levels dipped below 94%, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said; Trump was given supplemental oxygen for about an hour at the White House; Trump was later taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and was administered an 8-gram dose of an experimental polyclonal antibody cocktail and his first dose of remdesivir.

  • Saturday: Trump’s blood oxygen level dropped for a second time to about 93% and was given the steroid dexamethasone; Trump was given a second dose of remdesivir; White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Trump’s vital signs were “very concerning” and “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery”; Dr. Conley said Trump was 72 hours into the diagnosis 36 hours after Trump said he received a positive result (70 hours from Saturday would have meant a diagnosis on Wednesday); Trump tweeted a video that he was “starting to feel good.”

  • Sunday: Trump’s blood oxygen level improved to 98%; doctors suggested that Trump might be discharged Monday; Trump left the hospital to go for a drive-by in a black SUV with the windows rolled up and two Secret Service agents inside.

  • Monday: Trump tweeted that he’ll be leaving the hospital.

  • Sources: New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN / ABC News / New York Times / New York Times / Vox

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~35,331,000; deaths: ~1,039,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,446,000; deaths: ~211,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / CNBC / NBC News

  • The White House identified at least 206 people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus at Trump’s fundraiser at Bedminster last week. (Axios)

  • At least 11 coronavirus cases can be traced to last week’s presidential debate in Cleveland. The city specifically said positive tests were traced to people involved in organizing the debate. (NBC News)

  • Trump finished a regimen of hydroxychloroquine “without side effects.” (CNBC)

  • Little evidence that the White House offered contact tracing or guidance to the hundreds of people potentially exposed. (Washington Post)

  • “It’s business as usual,” one White House official put it. “Among White House staff and the re-election effort, some advisers were furious that Trump wasn’t talked out of attending a high-roller fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Thursday night, after the White House already learned of his exposure to the virus, two administration officials said.” (Daily Beast)

  • Mark Meadows provided no guidance to White House aides about what to do with Trump at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s reelection campaign won’t change any safety protocols for upcoming rallies despite Trump’s hospitalization after contracting COVID-19. (CNN)

  • [Analysis] Five questions about the White House’s botched handling of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. (Washington Post)

  • [Analysis] The White House Is Spreading Virus and Lies. “The White House is at war with the virus, with itself, and with reality — though not necessarily in that order.” (New York Magazine)

  • [Analysis] How to Cover a Sick Old Man. (New York Times)

  • 🤮 The White House Super-Spreader Tracker:

  • Trump

  • Melania Trump

  • Hope Hicks

  • Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager (Politico)

  • Kayleigh McEnany (Axios / CNBC / Politico)

  • Chris Christie (CNBC / CNN)

  • Kellyanne Conway (Washington Post)

  • Karoline Leavitt, assistant press secretary (USA Today)

  • Chad Gilmartin, principal assistant press secretary (Twitter)

  • Nick Luna, director of Oval Office operations (Axios)

  • Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee chairwoman (Axios / Politico)

  • Sen. Thom Tillis

  • Sen. Mike Lee (Axios / Politico)

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (Cap Times)

  • Notre Dame President John Jenkins

  • Three White House journalists (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Attorney General William Barr will quarantine out of caution (Associated Press / CNN)

5/ Trump unexpectedly left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday for a motorcade drive-by to wave to supporters. Video showed Trump wearing a mask and waving from behind the closed window of a black SUV, accompanied by at least two Secret Service agents, who were wearing respirators and eye protection. Prior to the drive-by, Trump reportedly told advisers that he was bored in the hospital. Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital and an attending physician at Walter Reed called the stunt “insanity,” tweeting that the “Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding.” Multiple Secret Service agents criticized Trump’s drive-by, accusing Trump of putting his protective detail in unnecessary danger. “He’s not even pretending to care now,” an agent who requested anonymity said. “That should never have happened,” another unidentified agent said. The drive-by also violated CDC guidelines, which call on health care professionals to “limit transport and movement of the patient outside of the room to medically essential purposes.” In a video posted on Twitter around the same time, Trump said he’s “learned a lot” about the coronavirus while undergoing treatment. “This is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book school. And I get it. And I understand it.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / The Hill / Associated Press / Politico / Los Angeles Times / The Guardian)

6/ Trump downplayed the seriousness of his coronavirus diagnosis, tweeting “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” Trump also announced that he will be leaving Walter Reed medical center at 6:30 p.m. ET today after receiving treatment that included experimental treatments unavailable to most Americans. The virus has killed more than 211,000 Americans so far. Trump argued with his doctors after they told him to go to Walter Reed on Friday. Doctors reportedly gave Trump an ultimatum: he could go to the hospital while he could still walk, or doctors would take him in a wheelchair or on a stretcher if his health deteriorated. Trump waited to leave for the hospital until the stock market closed on Friday. Trump’s advisers, meanwhile, urged Trump not to check out of the hospital as recently as this morning, saying “You don’t wanna come back.” (Politico / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Vanity Fair / CNN)

  • Trump Jr. “thinks Trump is acting crazy,” according to two Republicans briefed on the family conversations. “According to sources, Don Jr. has told friends that he tried lobbying Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Jared Kushner to convince the president that he needs to stop acting unstable.” Trump Jr. said he “‘wants to stage an intervention, but Jared and Ivanka keep telling Trump how great he’s doing.’” Trump Jr. is also reportedly “reluctant to confront his father alone,” saying “I’m not going to be the only one to tell him he’s acting crazy.” (Vanity Fair)

  • Trump told Bob Woodward in March that he didn’t have “a lot of time” to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the coronavirus. “Trump hailed Fauci in the March 19 interview as a ‘sharp guy’ who has ‘done it before,’ but when pressed if he had met with the nation’s leading infectious disease expert one-on-one for a better understanding of the virus, the President offered: ‘Yes, I guess, but honestly there’s not a lot of time for that, Bob.’ (Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian)

7/ The CDC updated its guidance about how COVID-19 spreads, confirming that the coronavirus is airborne and may infect people who are more than six feet apart, especially indoors with poor ventilation. Two weeks ago, the agency updated its guidance to say COVID-19 could spread through the air, but then abruptly reverted to its previous guidance. The new guidance now says the “CDC continues to believe, based on current science, that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with COVID-19” and that the the virus can “sometimes be spread by airborne transmission” and can be spread by both droplets and aerosols released when people “cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe.” (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Politico / ABC News)

8/ The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12 despite two Republican committee members testing positive for the coronavirus. “The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out” by Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell said in a statement. McConnell, however, said he’ll seek consent from Democrats to delay the return of the Senate to Oct. 19 after Senators Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, and Thom Tillis tested positive. (NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times)

poll/ 72% of Americans said Trump did not take the “risk of contracting the virus seriously enough,” nor “the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health.” (ABC News)

poll/ 65% of Americans agreed that if “Trump had taken coronavirus more seriously, he probably would not have been infected.” (Reuters)

poll/ 59% of voters said Trump “underestimated the risks of COVID-19” while 21% said he has “behaved appropriately.” 59% said Trump has not been wearing a mask and social distancing appropriately, 61% said Trump’s level of mask-wearing and social distancing has been “too little,” and 64% don’t think Trump should have attended a New Jersey fundraiser with top GOP donors after learning that Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID-19. (Yahoo News)

poll/ 53% of voters prefer Biden for president following the debate but before news emerged that Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. 39% prefer Trump. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump wants to fire FBI director Christopher Wray after the election. According to several senior officials and close associates, Trump intends to replace Wray near the start of a second term in office, saying the matter would be resolved “next year.” (Daily Beast)

  2. Trump’s national security adviser claimed that Russians “have committed” to not interfering in the the election. American intelligence agencies, however, have already reported that Russians have been active in the 2020 election. FBI Director Christopher Wray also told Congress in September that “the intelligence community consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections.” And Microsoft provided similar evidence. Nevertheless, Robert C. O’Brien asserted that Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, promised not to interfere. (New York Times)

  3. The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America investigated one of its journalists for anti-Trump bias. A report deemed “confidential” claims that VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman had been unfair to Trump in his reporting and tweets, and had broken the broadcaster’s standards and social media policies. (NPR)


Become a member.

Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.
Learn more