The shambolic White House strategy over Trump’s illness

It is standard practice in politics to put the best face on anything concerning your candidate so one should not be surprised that Trump’s doctors are giving upbeat reports on his health. But what I don’t understand in why they are giving such contradictory messages.

President Donald Trump could be discharged “as early as tomorrow” from the hospital as he battles the coronavirus, his medical team said on Sunday, while acknowledging Trump experienced concerning drops in his oxygen saturation levels both Friday and Saturday.

The timing on a potential release from Walter Reed medical center, where Trump has been since Friday, was a change from the more cautious assessment the president’s physician, Sean Conley, gave on Saturday, when he declined to “put a hard date” on a possible discharge date.

During a briefing on Trump’s health Sunday morning, Conley also confirmed the president had received supplemental oxygen while at the White House on Friday morning — a step frequently taken in more serious coronavirus cases. Conley a day earlier had avoided acknowledging Trump’s need for supplemental oxygen before arriving at Walter Reed.

Separately, Conley also revealed the president had been given dexamethasone, a decades-old steroid. The announcement concerned medical experts because the drug is typically recommended only for patients with severe or critical cases of Covid-19.

U.K. scientists reported in June that dexamethasone, which quiets the immune system, reduced the risk of death for patients who required supplemental oxygen or ventilator assistance. While the drug can aid those severely ill patients, whose symptoms are often the result of an immune system in overdrive, it can also harm those who are not as sick by hampering the body’s ability to fight off the virus.

So Trump is being given two experimental drugs, has experienced drops in his oxygen levels that required being given supplemental oxygen, and has also been given steroids that are only given for people with severe conditions. Maybe the doctors are throwing everything at him in the hope of accelerating his recovery.

But to then say that he might be discharged today seems absurd and unnecessary. Surely you would want to keep a person undergoing such treatments under close observation in a hospital with excellent facilities like Walter Reed? What would be gained by having Trump go back to the White. House other than to declare it as some sort of victory over covid-19? How much worse will it look if he is later taken back to the hospital? It may be that Trump’s doctors have not been properly trained in the art of political message control.

Meanwhile, Trump’s somewhat rambling four-minute video message from the hospital did not dispel the confusion because he says that he wanted to go to the hospital because he did not want to be cooped up in the White House residence but wanted the facilities at Walter Reed so he could work (Ha!). So why go back now after just two days?

Then to make matters worse, on Sunday the White House press pool was told that they could go home because there would be no events after 3:00 pm and then around 5:00 pm, Trump goes out in an SUV to wave to his supporters, putting his Secret Service detail at risk.

Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, said the president put his Secret Service detail “at grave risk”.

“In the hospital when we go into close contact with a COVID patient we dress in full PPE: Gown, gloves, N95, eye protection, hat. This is the height of irresponsibility,” Reiner wrote.

One reporter said an anonymous Secret Service source said Trump’s appearance was “so reckless, so careless, so heartless”.

A physician at Walter Reed described the stunt as ‘insanity’.

James Phillips, doctor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, who is an attending physician at Walter Reed, called the stunt “insanity”.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die,” he wrote in a tweet.

“For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

Now it appears that Trump had got a positive test result on Thursday, earlier than the 1:00 am Friday morning one he reported, and did not share that with either the public or with people in the White House. This means that he might have got this result before he attended the fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club on Thursday and mingled with the more than 200 people there. New Jersey officials are now scrambling to contact all of them in order to do contact tracing.

His recklessness and lack of concern about the health of others is galling. The man is truly a sociopath.


  1. DonDueed says

    According to a NYT article I read in the Boston Globe, Trump’s initial positive test was taken just after he returned from the Bedminster event. It was a rapid test (15-minute variety, which has high rates of false positives/negatives), so he was immediately retested with a more accurate PCR test; that (also positive) result was what he tweeted about Friday morning.

    But in the meantime he did not isolate himself or reveal the initial positive result to White House staff or the public.

  2. says

    Trump’s somewhat rambling four-minute video message from the hospital

    That may be “fake news” (isn’t it funny how much the white house loves issuing fake news?) -- that may have been shot at the white house rather than the hospital. It’s sounding like they shot that before he took the helicopter ride -- presumably they figured they should do a bunch of footage of him saying “I’m doing GREAT!” because they won’t be able to get him on camera while they are replacing his skin around the animatronic framework while he’s sick.

  3. garnetstar says

    Where does Trump find all these goony doctors? There was the hippie-like one who let Trump write his own medical-condition report (healthiest president ever!). Then the one who was the White House physician for a while, who also declared Trump in the best shape humanly possible, but who was a sort of legal drug-dealer on the side. And the radiologist who’s in charge now, who thinks that as many of us as possible should get sick, so that we’ll get the mythical herd immunity.

    Now this smiles-and-happy-faces one, who blithely declares that a COVID patient can leave the hospital in a few days! Does he not know what doctors who’ve treated such patients have found, that often in the second week, a patient who’s been feeling better suddenly gets hit hard? Has he, in fact, ever once treated a COVID patient, besides Trump?

    Perhaps all these doctors did their medical training at Trump University.

  4. says

    Where does Trump find all these goony doctors?

    Money attracts them like rotting meat attracts vultures, or the sound of a car crash attracts lawyers. “If I don’t do it, somebody else will!”

  5. says

    Hopefully the doctors actually treating him at Walter Reed will, in consideration of everyone’s health and safety, manufacture a reason to require the tiny-handed angry orange toddler with an Adderall addiction to undergo intubation and hook him up to a respirator, supposing such reason does not yet actually exist..

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