President Trump entered his third day in the hospital on Sunday after contracting the coronavirus and falling ill last week, even as confusing and contradictory accounts about his medical condition added to the national sense of uncertainty and concern for the 74-year-old president’s well-being.
Seeking to project an optimistic image to the world, President Trump released a four-minute video on Saturday evening from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to say that he is “starting to feel good” and would “be back soon.”
Wearing a blue jacket, cuff links and an American flag pin but no necktie, the president looked much paler than he did during his debate in Cleveland on Tuesday with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Thanking the staff at Walter Reed, Mr. Trump said that he “wasn’t feeling so well” when he arrived at the hospital on Friday, but that he felt “much better now.”
On Saturday night, the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, released a new statement, saying that Mr. Trump had made “substantial progress” and would be monitored closely as he undergoes a five-day experimental antiviral drug regimen for Covid-19 and continues to receive doses of remdesivir, a drug that has shown some efficacy at speeding recovery.
“While not out of the woods, the team remains cautiously optimistic,” Dr. Conley noted.
But that optimism was not shared by everyone close to the president and just a few hours earlier, Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, had offered a darker picture.
“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning,” Mr. Meadows said. “And the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.”
Many doctors stressed the critical period of time — about seven to 10 days after infection — when a patient’s condition can take a turn for the worse. Some people respond to an infection with an overly exuberant immune response that can worsen their illness and even prove fatal.
The release of only sketchy information made it difficult for outside medical experts to assess the president’s condition and the lack of clear communication was compounded by the vagaries of a virus that continues to puzzle scientists.
Some 7.3 million Americans have been infected since the pandemic swept around the world and more than 208,000 have died.
Tens of thousands have suffered serious illness with an untold number dogged by symptoms weeks or even months after infection.
It remained unclear when Mr. Trump was infected. But his case is part of a widening outbreak in the nation’s capital, with scores of people the president had contact with in recent days testing positive.
At least seven people who attended a White House event on Sept. 26 have since tested positive for the coronavirus. Six of them, including the first lady, sat in the first several rows of a Supreme Court nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the White House Rose Garden. The seventh was the president himself.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was in the room with the president as he prepared for the debate last week, was the latest to test positive and fall ill. He was hospitalized on Saturday evening.
Mr. Biden tested negative on Friday and said he would be tested again on Sunday. His campaign vowed to make public the results of all future tests.