Aside from his willingness to expose aides and Secret Service members to the coronavirus, one of the most troubling factors of Donald Trump’s COVID-19 case was the White House’s lack of clarity regarding the former president’s infection. But the administration, known for its opaque relationship with the public, reportedly did not reveal just how serious Trump’s bout with COVID-19 became.
While it was previously known that Trump had a fever and difficulty breathing on the day he was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center, a report from the New York Times on Thursday details the severity of his case. On October 2, the day after he tested positive, Trump’s blood-oxygen levels dropped severely as he developed other lung problems:
His prognosis became so worrisome before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator, two of the people familiar with his condition said. The people familiar with Mr. Trump’s health said he was found to have lung infiltrates, which occur when the lungs are inflamed and contain substances such as fluid or bacteria. Their presence, especially when a patient is exhibiting other symptoms, can be a sign of an acute case of the disease. They can be easily spotted on an X-ray or scan, when parts of the lungs appear opaque, or white.
Mr. Trump’s blood oxygen level alone was cause for extreme concern, dipping into the 80s, according to the people familiar with his evaluation. The disease is considered severe when the blood oxygen level falls to the low 90s.
As was previously reported, Trump only agreed to be hospitalized when aides told him that he could walk to Marine One or he could wait until he his case progressed and he would be carried out. And while it was known in October that the former president was given a drug cocktail that was not widely available to the public — which made him quite peppy at post-infection rallies — the Times report has new details surrounding his treatment. In addition to a steroid treatment and a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir, both of which were signs of the severity of his case, Trump was also given a drug developed by the pharmaceutical firm Regeneron. (It had not yet been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for coronavirus treatment.) In the weeks after his infection, Trump boasted about the drug in public and reportedly told aides, “I’m proof it works.”
But with a fundamentally unsound understanding of medicine, the president misunderstood that part. The Times reports that aides frequently joked about the fact that his case was actually a failed clinical trial for the drug, which was meant to stop patients from being hospitalized. Regardless, the White House did not return its extra doses to the company.