Standing on the steps of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, with a phalanx of white-coated doctors behind him, the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, ticked off President Trump’s encouraging vital signs: no fever, only slightly elevated blood pressure and a blood oxygen level in the healthy range.
“He’s back,” Dr. Conley said later in the news conference.
But when reporters asked him for results of Mr. Trump’s chest X-rays and lung scans — crucial measures of how severely the president has been sickened by Covid-19 — Dr. Conley refused to answer, citing a federal law that restricts what doctors can share about patients.
Without critical data about his lung function, medical experts in Covid-19 and lung disease said they were struggling to piece together an accurate picture of how Mr. Trump is faring. They noted that while most patients with the virus do recover, it was premature to declare victory over an unpredictable, poorly understood virus that has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States.
Less than a month from Election Day, Dr. Conley’s patient, Mr. Trump, is presenting himself as strong and unfazed by the coronavirus, and seems to have instructed his doctor to steer clear of disclosing health details that might puncture his image of invulnerability.
Dr. Conley said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump was experiencing no symptoms of the disease and doing “extremely well,” though he himself cautioned on Monday that the president was not “out of the woods” and that “we will all take that final deep sigh of relief” if he still feels well next Monday.
Far from having vanquished Covid-19, the outside doctors said, Mr. Trump is most likely still struggling with it and entering a pivotal phase — seven to 10 days after the onset of symptoms — in which he could rapidly take a turn for the worse. He’s 74, male and moderately obese, factors that put him at risk for severe disease.
“I don’t need to get in the president’s business,” said Dr. Talmadge E. King Jr., a specialist in pulmonary critical care and the dean of the UCSF School of Medicine. However, he said, “if their goal is for us to understand more completely what is going on, they have left a lot of very useful information off the table.”
Several medical experts said that based on the incomplete information Mr. Trump’s medical team had provided, the president appeared to have at least at some point experienced a severe form of Covid-19, with impairment of the lungs and a blood oxygen level below 94 percent, which is a cutoff for severe disease.
But again, Dr. Conley has not been fully forthcoming about Mr. Trump’s oxygen levels. He said that the president’s blood oxygen had dipped to 93 percent on Saturday. He was evasive about an earlier episode of low oxygen on Friday, though. When a reporter asked if Mr. Trump was ever below 90 percent, Dr. Conley said that his oxygen level had