3 Lingering Concerns About Trump’s Health Following Sunday’s Briefing

Topline

President Trump’s medical team offered an upbeat assessment of the president’s health and even suggested Trump could be discharged from the hospital soon during a press conference Sunday, but there are still concerns about Trump’s health among the medical community at large, and questions about how transparent and upfront the president’s medical team is truly being.

Key Facts

Oxygen level: Trump’s doctors confirmed Sunday the president has had two “transient drops” in oxygen saturation levels, including two instances in which Trump’s oxygen saturation levels dipped below 95%.

Doctors say an oxygen level of below 94%—which the president had on Friday, prompting his transfer to Walter Reed Hospital and for doctors to put him on oxygen for about an hour—is a sign of a patient with worsening Covid-19 symptoms and is cause for concern.

Dexamethasone: White House Physician Dr. Sean Conley said the president has started on dexamethasone, a steroid that is only recommended for patients who are experiencing serious Covid-19 symptoms.

World Health Organization guidelines stipulate patients should not take the steroid for those with mild/moderate Covid-19 symptoms, and preliminary clinical trials show taking the drug may make things worse with patients with mild symptoms.

Fever: Dr. Conley said the president did not have a fever on Sunday, which doctors say could be a good sign, but it was “high” on Friday (Dr. Conley did not say how high it was), prompting doctors to caution that the medications the president is currently taking could be masking the fever.

Doctors also expressed concerns about discharging the president from the hospital — which Trump’s team said could happen as early as Monday— when the president exhibited concerning symptoms on Friday, and was on three medications, including Regeneron, Remdesivir and dexamethasone.

Crucial Quote

Trump’s two drops in oxygen levels prompted his medical team to start administering  dexamethasone. “Over the course of his illness, the president has experienced two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation,” Dr. Conley said Sunday, “It was a determination of the team, based predominantly on the timeline from the initial diagnosis, that we initiate dexamethasone.” 

What To Watch For 

The president’s medical team was again evasive when it came to questions about the president’s lung scans, prompting some doctors to wonder whether the president had contracted pneumonia, or something worse. Trump’s lung scans show “expected findings,” Dr. Conley said, refusing to answer the question directly. He also said there’s “nothing of major clinical concern” when it comes to the president’s lungs. 

Key Background

Trump’s medical team has been criticized for not offering clear information on the president’s health, and evading questions from reporters. After Dr. Conley and his team offered a positive assessment about the president’s health on Friday, a White House press pool reporter relayed a statement from a source “familiar with the president’ health” that said the “president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning.” On Sunday, Dr. Conley addressed the apparent contradiction, saying the statement was “misconstrued.”

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