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Trump greets supporters following new details of his illness

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Infected and contagious, President Donald Trump briefly ventured out in a motorcade on Sunday to salute cheering supporters, a move that disregarded precautions meant to contain the deadly virus that has forced his hospitalization and killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Hours earlier, Trump’s medical team reported that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. Still, the doctors said Trump’s health is improving and that he could be discharged as early as Monday.

With one month until Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, driving by in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear.

The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fueled confusion about Trump’s health, which has imperiled the leadership of the U.S. government and upended the final stages of the presidential campaign. While Trump’s physician offered a rosy prognosis on his condition, his briefings lacked basic information, including the findings of lung scans, or were quickly muddled by more serious assessments of the president’s health by other officials.

In a short video released by the White House on Sunday, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions moments later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, suggested otherwise.

“This is insanity,” Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed who is a critic of Trump and his handling of the pandemic. “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,” the doctor added. “Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater.”

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump’s trip outside the hospital “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” He added that precautions were taken, including using personal protective equipment, to protect Trump as well as White House officials and Secret Service agents.

Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results come five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump. Biden, who has taken a far more cautious approach to in-person events, had two negative tests on Friday.

For his part, Trump still faces questions about his health.

His doctors sidestepped questions on Sunday about exactly when Trump’s blood oxygen dropped — an episode they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before — or whether lung scans showed any damage.

It was the second straight day of obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely

Infected Trump greets supporters in motorcade outside hospital; his health unclear

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Doctors treating President Donald Trump for COVID-19 sent conflicting signals about the severity of his condition on Sunday, hours before the president surprised supporters gathered outside the hospital with an impromptu motorcade.

Trump, 74, wore a mask as he waved from the back seat of a black SUV that crawled in a caravan of vehicles in front of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, while supporters waving Trump 2020 flags chanted: “USA! USA!”

Trump, who said on Friday morning he had the infectious disease, was swiftly criticized for risking the health of support staff.

It was Trump’s first appearance in public since he was evacuated to the hospital on Friday.

“It’s a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID,” he said in a video posted on Twitter shortly beforehand.

Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden tested negative again for the disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, his campaign said on Sunday. The former vice president, who shared a debate stage with Trump last Tuesday, previously tested negative in two tests on Friday, the day Trump disclosed his coronavirus infection.

Doctors said the president was improving, although they were monitoring the condition of his lungs after he received supplemental oxygen. They said he could be sent back to the White House as soon as Monday.

But Dr. Sean P. Conley said the president’s condition had been worse than he previously admitted. Conley said Trump’s blood oxygen levels had dropped in prior days and that he had run a high fever on Friday morning.

Asked what tests had revealed about the condition of Trump’s lungs, Conley replied: “There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern.”

Conley’s response suggested the X-rays revealed some signs of pneumonia, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

“The expected finding is that he has evidence of pneumonia in the X-ray. If it was normal they would just say it is normal,” Adalja said.

Other doctors not involved in Trump’s treatment said there was evidence his case was severe. Trump is being given dexmethasone, a steroid used in severe COVID cases, as well as the intravenous antiviral drug Remdesivir and an experimental antibody treatment from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

“It would be very unlikely for him to be out and about, and on the campaign trail in less than 14 days,” said Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at New York’s Northwell Health.

Administration officials have given contradictory assessments of Trump’s health. Conley and other doctors delivered a positive prognosis on Saturday, which was promptly undercut by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“I was trying to reflect an upbeat attitude of the team and the president about the course his illness has had,” Conley told reporters on Sunday. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.”

‘IRRESPONSIBILITY’

Trump spent much of the year downplaying the risks of the COVID-19

Trump greets supporters outside hospital where he’s receiving COVID-19 treatment

By JILL COLVIN, STEVE PEOPLES and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — President Donald Trump declared, “I get it,” in a message to the nation Sunday evening before briefly leaving the hospital to greet cheering supporters from his motorcade, a surprising move that suggested that his health — and his understanding of the coronavirus — may be improving.

Hours earlier, the president’s medical team confirmed that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days. But they also said he could be discharged as early as Monday.

“It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID,” Trump said, standing in his hospital room in a video posted on social media. “I learned it by really going to school.”

He added, “I get it, and I understand it.”

At least one medical professional inside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump has been hospitalized since Friday evening, questioned whether Trump had really learned anything.

“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 P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, tweeted.

Earlier in the day, Trump’s doctors revealed they gave the president a steroid treatment typically only recommended for the very sick. But they sidestepped questions about exactly when Trump’s blood oxygen dropped — an episode they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before — or whether lung scans showed any damage.

It was the second straight day of confusion and obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised questions about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of him condition.

Pressed about conflicting information he and the White House released on Saturday, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley acknowledged that he had tried to present a rosy description of the president’s condition.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude of the team, that the president, that his course of illness has had. Didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” Conley said. “And in doing so, came off like we’re trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”

The briefing outside the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center lasted just 10 minutes.

Medical experts said Conley’s revelations raised new questions about how ill the president was and are hard to square with the doctor’s upbeat assessment and talk of a discharge.

“There’s a little bit of a disconnect,” said Dr. Steven Shapiro, chief medical and scientific officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Blood oxygen saturation is a key health marker for COVID-19 patients. A normal reading is between 95 and 100. Conley said the