Trump’s photo op raises new questions about how seriously he takes the virus

The short trip, where Trump waved to his supporters through the window while wearing a mask in the back of his SUV, was an attempted show of strength that displayed the President’s questionable judgment, his willingness to endanger his staff and the fact that he still does not seem to comprehend the seriousness of a highly contagious and deadly disease.

Photos of Trump’s unannounced ride posted by Getty Images show a Secret Service agent in the front row wearing a full medical gown, respirator mask and a clear face shield.

Only hours earlier his doctors provided concerning details about his condition to reporters, including several alarming drops in his oxygen levels, yet the late Sunday photo op showed that the President’s chief concern is projecting a commanding image to the public, amid reports that he was furious at his chief of staff for telling reporters Saturday that his vital signs early Friday were concerning.

In that jarring news conference Sunday morning, Trump’s doctors said that even though the President has had at least two concerning drops in oxygen levels, they are hoping he could be discharged as early as tomorrow from Walter Reed.

Conley and other doctors involved in the President’s care offered some information about the President’s condition and the treatments that he is receiving — but there were still significant gaps that made it hard to decipher the full picture.

Conley again failed to answer basic questions about the President’s condition and admitted Sunday that he had omitted those alarming drops in the President’s oxygen levels during Saturday’s news conference because he wanted to “reflect the upbeat attitude” that the team and the President had about his condition and didn’t want “to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.”

Conley acknowledged that his evasive answers “came off that we were trying to hide something” but said that “wasn’t necessarily true,” adding that the President is “doing really well” and is responding to treatment.

The President has experienced “two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation,” Conley said Sunday. The first significant episode occurred late Friday morning when, Conley said, the President had “a high fever and his oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94%.” The President was given oxygen at that point, Conley said, answering a question he had evaded during his Saturday briefing.

“After about a minute on only two liters, his saturation levels were back over 95%. He stayed on that for about an hour maybe, and it was off and gone,” Conley said Sunday. Later on Friday, Conley said, Trump was out of bed, moving around the White House residence with only mild symptoms.

On Saturday, the President’s oxygen level dropped again “to about 93%,” Conley said. “We watched it and it returned back up.” But the incident led doctors to start treating Trump with the steroid drug dexamethasone, which has been shown to help patients with Covid-19. It is typically given to patients on supplemental oxygen or ventilation.

Conley said the President’s current blood oxygen level is 98%.

But Conley refused to say how low the President’s blood oxygen levels had dropped during that first alarming episode at the White House.

When asked if the President’s blood oxygen level had dropped below 90, he replied, “We don’t have any recordings here of that.” Pressed again on whether the level had dropped below 90, Conley said the President’s blood oxygen levels didn’t get down into “the low 80s.”

He offered no detail about what X-rays or CT scans have shown about whether there has been any damage to the President’s lungs.

“There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern,” Conley said, not explaining whether they were expected findings in the lungs of a normal patient or a Covid-19 patient.

A crisis in leadership

Some seven months into a pandemic that has killed more than 209,000 Americans, the nation is now facing a grave governing crisis with its commander in chief hospitalized — his condition hinging on his progress over the coming days — as the White House events of the past week serve as a textbook example of how not to handle a deadly virus.

The White House already has a huge credibility problem with the public, and the lack of on-the-record information from White House officials Friday and Saturday served as a master class in opacity and contradiction that raised major questions about the President’s health.

It was only late Saturday night — more than 24 hours after the President had been at Walter Reed — that the public learned specific details about why Trump was airlifted to the hospital Friday, when chief of staff Mark Meadows said during an…

Read More: Trump’s photo op raises new questions about how seriously he takes the virus

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