Politics White House focuses on optics while America wonders about health of the President

10:10  05 october  2020
10:10  05 october  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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She added that White House officials had deemed it safe for Mr Trump to go to New Jersey, despite the news. According to Mr Trump's most recent physical examination earlier But Dr Conley stated at the time that the president "remains healthy ". Mr Trump will also have the best medical care available.

US President Donald Trump's tweet on Friday confirming that he and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus shocked the world. Dozens of lawmakers, family members and staff from the White House were at the event. Those who have tested positive were seated in the first few rows of the

It's been more than two days since President Donald Trump was airlifted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but Americans remain largely in the dark about the trajectory of his infection with Covid-19 and the specifics of his condition as the White House tries to control the optics of his illness with misleading briefings, posed images and even a reckless photo-op outside the hospital.

a passenger seat of a car: US President Trump waves from the back of a car in a motorcade outside of Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 4, 2020. © Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images US President Trump waves from the back of a car in a motorcade outside of Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 4, 2020.

In the midst of an aggressive course of treatment, Trump left Walter Reed with his security detail Sunday afternoon so he could take a brief ride in an SUV past supporters cheering him on.

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Moments later, the White House chief of staff expressed concern about the president 's condition, saying he was not yet on a clear path to recovery. Dr Conley said some of the president 's symptoms including a mild cough and nasal congestion were "now resolving and improving", adding: "At this time

The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C

The surprise outing, 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.

Trump's doctors on Sunday provided concerning details about his condition to reporters, including two alarming drops in his oxygen levels. But their professed hope that he could be discharged on Monday -- followed by the afternoon photo-op -- underscored that the primary concern for the President, who was furious at his chief of staff for telling reporters about his troubling vital signs, is projecting a commanding image to the public.

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An attending physician at Walter Reed harshly criticized Trump's Sunday drive-by as a risk to the lives of Secret Service agents who accompanied him in his SUV.

"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. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity," Dr. James Phillips tweeted.

Despite the risk posed to others in the hospital, the driver and security, White House spokesman Judd Deere said that "the movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do" and that "appropriate precautions" were taken, "including PPE."

But with the circle of people in government or close to the President who have tested positive rapidly widening over the weekend -- including at least eight people who attended the Supreme Court nominee announcement in the Rose Garden last month -- there were renewed questions about the White House's commitment to the social distancing and mask-wearing guidance from its own coronavirus task force.

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Several of the president ’s falsehoods focused on coronavirus, as Trump sought to downplay the ongoing pandemic. The rosy picture painted by the president Large screens displaying the Trump-Pence campaign logo were planted on either side of the White House portico, and more than 1,500

White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson is on board to perform Trump's physical on Friday; he performed President Barack Obama's last several One of the most unusual was President Grover Cleveland's 1893 coverup of his oral cancer surgery. He smuggled a surgeon and his team onto a

The White House Management Office sent its first staff-wide email Sunday night since Trump tested positive for coronavirus early Friday morning. Until then, staffers had gotten no word about whether to come into work or to remain home given that several of their colleagues tested positive. Stunningly, the email, which was viewed by CNN, states they should not contact the White House testing office if they have symptoms.

Trump's condition

Trump's physician, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, held a second medical briefing in as many days on Sunday that again raised more questions than answers about the President's condition.

Trump's doctors said that even though the President has had at least two concerning drops in oxygen levels -- one late Friday morning, and the other at an unspecified time on Saturday -- they were hoping he could be discharged as soon as Monday.

Conley 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."

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Conley said 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 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.

Video: Doctor releases letter on Trump's condition (CNN)

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 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.

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While the President was still at the White House Friday, he was administered the experimental Regeneron antibody cocktail, a promising treatment that has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration intended to help boost the President's immune system. Once he was at Walter Reed, doctors began a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has been shown to shorten recovery time for some coronavirus patients.

A governing crisis

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, 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 over the weekend 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 interview with Fox News that Trump had a fever on Friday morning and his oxygen level had "dropped rapidly."

Earlier on Saturday, Meadows had also attempted to signal that the President's initial condition was more serious when he spoke to pool reporters as an unnamed official after Conley's briefing that morning. But his identity was later revealed by The New York Times and The Associated Press, and Trump was angry that Meadows had contradicted the White House physician's upbeat assessment, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN's Jim Acosta Sunday.

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Conley said on Sunday he and Meadows "work side by side" and that the chief of staff's statement had been misconstrued.

"What he meant was that 24 hours ago when he and I were checking on the President, that there was that momentary episode of a high fever and that temporary drop in the saturation, which prompted us to act expediently to move him up here," Conley said, referring to Walter Reed.

The President's aversion to appearing weak and sick is now driving the effort to project resolve.

"I learned a lot about Covid," Trump said in a video released on his Twitter page Sunday afternoon. "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," Trump said.

In a similar video the previous night meant to make him look in command of the situation, Trump said the decision to go to Walter Reed was his, which contradicts CNN's reporting that he was reluctant to go to the hospital.

Concern about optics

For much of this year, Trump has spun an alternate reality about the dangers of coronavirus — disputing science and the efficacy of masks, downplaying the risks to the American people, and making false statements about how 99% of coronavirus cases in America are "totally harmless" or that the virus "affects virtually nobody."

He encouraged his aides and advisers to live in that dangerous fantasy land, pushing his luck to the limits as late as this past week when he again recklessly gathered thousands of unmasked Americans at his political rallies and packed the top officials in government into a Rose Garden ceremony for his Supreme Court nominee. All the while, White House officials embraced the fallacy that administering rapid coronavirus tests frequently at the White House could provide a shield of immunity.

It "seems highly likely this originated at the SCOTUS announcement last week," a senior administration official told CNN's Jake Tapper of the outbreak among GOP officials. "It may have come from the Hill. The next major concern will be securing Capitol Hill and protecting lawmakers," the official added.

The President tweeted that he had tested positive for coronavirus around 1 a.m. ET Friday, hours after attending a Thursday night fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump got his first positive coronavirus test result Thursday after returning from that trip, a White House official said Saturday evening. But senior adviser Hope Hicks had begun experiencing symptoms the previous night while accompanying the President on his trip to Minnesota for a fundraiser and rally Wednesday night. It's unclear whether the President was tested around that same time, given how closely they work together.

Since then, officials in the Trump White House have carefully calibrated their statements about his health in what seems like an effort to put the best face on the diagnosis at a time when the President is 29 days from Election Day and trailing in the polls. Mail-in voting has already begun in certain states across the country.

President Donald Trump and his staff have defied CDC coronavirus guidelines 23 times since Sept. 1 .
Since Sept. 1, Trump and other key White House officials have violated CDC coronavirus guidance at least 23 times, according to a USA TODAY analysis.President Donald Trump and members of his administration have often flouted guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, according to a review of news events by USA TODAY.

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