Trump 'Continues to Improve,' say Docs, but Some Are Skeptical

Medical team said that president could return to the White House in coming days, but an ER doctor told TheStreet he has concerns about reports on president's condition.
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President Donald Trump is doing well and is free of worrying symptoms, said his medical team at Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday, hours before Trump posted a video of himself looking upbeat and speaking of a quick return to the White House. But some observers questioned the official details of Trump's health.

The doctors told reporters that Trump's oxygen saturation levels had briefly dropped and that he had had a fever, but they said that he was treated for both symptoms and is now up and about. Images of Trump's lungs were said to have "expected" findings.

"We're getting great reports from the doctors," said Trump on a video posted to Twitter Sunday evening, calling his stay at Walter Reed an interesting "journey" and that he's learned a lot about Covid-19.

Earlier on Sunday, while making news talk show rounds, top Trump campaign advisers also said that the U.S. president is "doing well."

But the glowing claims about Trump's condition were met with some skepticism by observers, especially as he was taking medications typically reserved for those with severe symptoms and because of gaps in information. 

"I am alarmed by some of the reports about the president's condition. We've been told that his oxygen was low at some point and that imaging of his lungs had the 'expected' findings. We are left to presume that his lungs showed signs of Covid-19-associated pneumonia, which can be harrowing," Dr. Jeremy S. Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told TheStreet in an email Sunday.

"All of these statements are indicative of more serious disease. The next 48 hours are crucial, but so are the next 48 hours after that, and so on, until his case is resolved."

Other doctors also expressed concern, and said they didn't trust information coming out of the White House over the weekend.

"I'm an oncologist. We understand we need to be honest with patients, yet we want to maintain some hope. On the other hand, we can't maintain hope on the basis of a lie. They've got to tell us the truth. The doublespeak coming out of the WH medical team is very very concerning," said Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a breast oncologist and a special adviser to the Director General of the World Health Organization, over Twitter on Sunday.

"Both the quality and the quantity of information released have been problematic," said Prof. Richard H. Ebright, the laboratory director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, in an email to TheStreet on Sunday. 

Ebright, who has been highly critical of the president, said White House reports on Trump's medical status have lacked transparency and truthfulness.

Furthermore, Ebright suggested, if Trump is improving this rapidly from Covid-19, he would be doing so under care that normal Americans are unlikely to receive amid a pandemic -- including treatment by a large team of top doctors, having access to experimental antibodies and getting early treatment of remdesivir. 

It would be "unfortunate," said Ebright, when asked about how people could interpret the news, if others drew conclusions about their own prospects of battling Covid-19 based on the president's officially reported status. 

The president's admission to Walter Reed Medical Center came less than 24 hours after revealing his diagnosis -- and conflicting reports about his health.

In the Sunday report, Dr. Sean Dooley, a member of Trump's medical team, said in the televised report that the president "continues to improve," and that his cardiac, liver and kidney functions appear normal or are improving.

The medical team, which as lead by Trump's physician, Navy Cmndr. Dr. Sean Conley, declined to give specifics about imaging taken of Trump's lungs. 

The doctors did, however, say they were hoping for a discharge as early as Monday, so that the president can return to the White House.

But they noted that Trump is still taking his course of the medication remdesivir and had taken a type of steroid. The overall takeaway from the press conference was that the president was doing well.

Despite the hospitalization of Trump, his Twitter page had posts attributed to the president and re-tweets over the weekend.

Around 4 p.m. on Sunday, he thanked over Twitter supporters and well-wishers, writing, "I really appreciate all of the fans and supporters outside of the hospital."

The news of his health on Sunday comes after a weekend of explosive headlines about the president -- who revealed in a Twitter post early Friday morning that he had been diagnosed with Covid-19. It's not clear when he was actually infected.

The president -- who is age 74 and overweight -- last posted a video of himself over Twitter on Saturday, appearing to be breathing and speaking normally. He sat at a table and was wearing a partially unbuttoned white shirt with a suit jacket, praising Walter Reed's doctors and staff.

"I feel much better now," said the president. 

Earlier in the weekend, Trump's doctor said the president was in good spirits and presented a picture of a president who was healing -- but also receiving experimental treatments such as an antibody cocktail from Regeneron  (REGN) - Get Report.

Around the same time, however, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was reported as saying that the president's vital signs were concerning and that the weekend would be a critical time in determining the direction of his health. 

"He's doing well, and I'm not going to give any intrigue of what was on background or on the record or not," Trump Campaign Adviser Steve Cortes told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, according to a transcript. Cortes described the president as "upbeat and assertive."

"So, this president is going to recover. We are highly certain of that, and, again, he is a fighter in every sense of the word."

Jason Miller, another campaign official, made similar statements on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning.

Since Trump's diagnosis, a growing number of people close to him have also tested positive for Covid-19, the disease that is caused by the novel coronavirus. First lady Melania Trump tested positive; and so did Kellyanne Conway, the former senior White House aide; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as several others.

Just before Trump was revealed as having coronavirus, his adviser, Hope Hicks, also tested positive -- but there was some discrepancy as to when Trump was first diagnosed, with his doctor, Dr. Sean P. Connley, sending out a statement over the weekend clarifying that the diagnosis was made "Thursday evening."

Since early this year, Trump's handling of the pandemic has been in question, and it's been a point of attack from rivals during campaigning for the 2020 presidential election, which is only a month away.

At times during the outbreak, the president compared the novel coronavirus to a common cold -- "the sniffles" -- and claimed it would disappear by April, as his administration early on gave Americans repeated assurances that they face little risk of infection, despite its fast spread throughout China and cases popping up globally. 

In fact, the virus has hit the U.S. particularly hard, killing nearly 210,000 Americans and infecting nearly 7.4 million. 

Nearly three in four Americans say they doubt Trump was serious about the threat Covid-19 posed to him and they feel he failed to take the steps necessary to avoid getting infected, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll, ABC News reported Sunday.

This story has been updated throughout the day.