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Doctors Upbeat On Trump's Condition But Provide Contradictory Information

White House physician Sean Conley briefs the press on Saturday on the condition of President Trump, who was hospitalized the evening before because of the coronavirus.
Brendan Smialowski
AFP/ via Getty Images
White House physician Sean Conley briefs the press on Saturday on the condition of President Trump, who was hospitalized the evening before because of the coronavirus.

President Trump has experienced two drops in his oxygen levels over the course of his COVID-19 diagnosis, and is now also being treated with a steroid, but could be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as early as Monday, physicians told reporters during a briefing Sunday morning.

Trump was admitted at Walter Reed Friday evening after announcingearly that morning that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The president's physician, Sean Conley, confirmed that Trump had received supplemental oxygen while at the White House on Friday morning ahead of being admitted to Walter Reed.

"Over the course of his illness, the president has experienced two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation," Conley said.

Trump received his first dose of the steroid dexamethasone Saturday, with Conley saying the potential benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.

But Conley said: "Since we spoke last, the president has continued to improve. As with any illness, there here are frequent ups and downs over the course, particularly when a patient is being so closely watched 24 hours a day."
Trump's care plan includes a five-day treatment course of remdesivir, which Dr. Brian Garibaldi said Trump "tolerated well."

A similar news conference Saturday led to many questions.

The timelineConley presented to reporters of Trump's diagnosis was quickly walked back by the White House.

And though Conley said Trump's symptoms were improving and that he was "extremely happy" with the progress being made, almost immediately after the briefing, a White House official — later identified by The Associated Press as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows —contradicted Conley, telling reporters: "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. We're still not on a clear path to a full recovery."

In a memo Saturday night, Conley wrote: "While not yet out of the woods, the team remains cautiously optimistic."

The president himself tweeted a video Saturday evening, in which he said: "I came here, wasn't feeling so well. I feel much better now."

But echoing Meadows, Trump added: "You don't know, over the next period of a few days, I guess that's the real test, so we'll be seeing what happens over those ... next couple of days."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.