- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 4, 2020

President Trump waved to supporters Sunday in a quick ride outside the hospital where he is battling COVID-19, hours after his doctors said he could be discharged by Monday if his bout with the disease improves under a mix of drug therapies.

Though behind glass, it was Mr. Trump’s first public appearance — aside from Twitter — since he departed the White House late Friday to be admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

He made the jaunt on the same day that Dr. Sean P. Conley reported that Mr. Trump’s blood oxygen level had dropped twice, once on Friday and again on Saturday, before returning to normal. He said Mr. Trump received a third drug therapy, a steroid called dexamethasone.

Dr. Conley raised new questions in the process. He declined to discuss any lung scans of Mr. Trump in detail and said he advised the president to take supplemental oxygen Friday — something he failed to disclose during an earlier weekend briefing.

Asked to clear the air, the doctor Sunday said the rosy outlook he provided Saturday conflicted with one from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows because he wanted to reflect the “upbeat attitude” of the team.

“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true,” Dr. Conley said from Walter Reed.

“The fact of the matter is, he’s doing very well,” the doctor said. “If everything continues to go well, we’re going to start a discharge plan back to the White House.”

The White House later described Mr. Trump’s afternoon drive-by as a “short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside” before returning to his suite at Walter Reed.

Online critics said the president put the health of Secret Service agents at risk because they accompanied him in an enclosed environment. The White House Correspondents’ Association said the reporting “pool” was not called to track Mr. Trump’s movements.

“It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing. Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health,” WHCA President Zeke Miller said.

The video of the trip was posted moments after a separate clip from inside the hospital, where Mr. Trump teases the visit to his loyal fans.

Fully dressed and sounding a bit raspy, he praised the “great patriots” outside Walter Reed, referring to his supporters.

“It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID,” he said. “I learned it by really going to school, this is the real school. This isn’t the ‘Let’s read the book’ school. And I get it, and I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing.”

Doctors said Mr. Trump continues to receive a five-day course of remdesivir, an antiviral drug. The president also received an “antibody cocktail” from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals on Friday.

The steroid, dexamethasone, is typically associated with severe cases. But it is a standard part of care for patients requiring supplemental oxygen, said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said there are no plans for Mr. Trump to transfer powers to others while America waits for his recovery.

“That’s not something that’s on the table at this point,” Mr. O’Brien told the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “But we’re prepared. Look, we have a great vice president. We have a government that is steady and is steady at the tiller.

“So far, the president’s in great shape,” he said. “He’s firmly in command of the government of the country.”

Mr. Trump’s diagnosis was confirmed late Thursday and revealed to the public close to 1 a.m. Friday. His case caused a worldwide stir and threw a major wrinkle into the presidential campaign 30 days before Election Day.

Vice President Mike Pence, who has tested negative for the virus, plans to represent the Trump campaign on the trail while the president is sidelined.

Some people are pointing to a Sept. 26 White House Rose Garden event where Mr. Trump introduced his pick for the Supreme Court vacancy, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah tested positive after attending the event, as did former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Many attendees did not wear masks at the ceremony, three days before the presidential debate in Cleveland. Mr. Trump’s family refused the masks provided at the debate. Hope Hicks, a presidential aide, tested positive at midweek after traveling with the president to Minnesota.

The White House knew about Ms. Hicks’ diagnosis but cleared Mr. Trump to meet with donors at Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday, saying the interactions were outside and physically distant.

“That was a decision made by White House operations because he wasn’t deemed to pose a threat,” White House communications director Alyssa Farah told reporters, She said she would look into the specifics of the decision.

She also tried to sort out why Dr. Conley’s Saturday assessment conflicted with one from Mr. Meadows.

“What Conley alluded to is, when you’re treating a patient, you want to project confidence, you want to lift their spirits, and that was the intent,” Ms. Farah said. “But of Chief of Staff Meadows came out to give you guys more information just to try to be as transparent as we can.”

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said Sunday that moving the president to Walter Reed was the “smart thing” to do. He said Mr. Trump was eager to get back into action when he spoke to him on Saturday.

“Once he gets out of the hospital, he’s ready to get back to the campaign trail,” Mr. Miller told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He sounded pretty energetic.”

In the meantime, Mr. Pence plans to visit Arizona after the vice presidential debate in Utah on Wednesday, before voting early in Indiana and visiting other places.

“People are kept very safe. And again, we can’t hide from this virus forever,” Mr. Miller said. “We have to take it head-on, and we have to reopen our economy. And we got to develop this vaccine and defeat the virus.”

Mr. Miller said members of Mr. Trump’s family will hold virtual events while they are in quarantine to prevent exposure to the virus before hitting the trail in person.

For the campaign of Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden, senior adviser Symone Sanders declined to discuss any contingency plans in case Mr. Biden, who is 77, becomes infected by the coronavirus.

She told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Mr. Biden is tested “regularly” for the coronavirus.

“He’s absolutely receiving a test before we travel,” she said.

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