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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

Could Trump Have Infected Biden?

The variability around both the tests and the disease itself makes it hard to reconstruct a firm timeline of what happened to Trump and those close to him. For example, Hope Hicks, a senior adviser, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, a day before Trump did. But this timing doesn’t mean that Hicks gave the virus to him, or even that she was infected before he was. Trump could have been infected first but slower to develop symptoms. He might have had several false-negative test results, while Hicks was first to have a true positive. Hicks might have been tested more frequently than Trump: Anyone in proximity to the president is tested daily, and although the White House says the president is tested “multiple times a day,” Trump himself has said he is tested only once every two or three days. “This visceral response that he got it from Hicks—we can’t say that,” says Saskia Popescu, an infection preventionist at the University of Arizona. “We can only loosely understand the general timeframes.”

Both Hicks and Trump could have caught the virus from a third person, or from completely different people. Indeed, there are plenty of candidates. Many of Trump’s supporters and aides have been vocal about not wearing masks, and frequently came into close contact with other people in indoor spaces. Melania Trump has also tested positive, as have Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and the University of Notre Dame president, John Jenkins. Many of them were at the Rose Garden event on September 26, when Trump officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Others in the White House, at Trump’s rallies, and at Tuesday’s debate could have been exposed. Contact tracing in these situations will be extremely difficult.

“Everyone who was at the debate should now be quarantining as much as possible, monitoring themselves closely for symptoms, wearing masks, and keeping their physical distance as much as possible,” says Eleanor Murray, an epidemiologist at Boston University. That goes for Biden, too, despite today’s negative test. After being exposed to the virus, half of the people who go on to show symptoms are symptomatic by day five—that would be Sunday for Biden, if he was exposed during the debate. About 98 percent of people are symptomatic by day 12, which would be next Sunday. If Biden is still testing negative a week from now, “it’ll be a good sign that there’s little likelihood of having been infected,” Murray says. Until then, he has to wait.

The image of Trump shouting at Biden on a national stage raises the specter of the former infecting the latter. But as ever, the pandemic says as much about the world we live in as the behavior of individuals. That we are even weighing the possibility of the incumbent president inadvertently infecting his opponent with a pandemic virus during a nationally televised event should be an indictment of America’s laxity in dealing with

Governor’s Office Won’t Disclose Number of Infected Staffers | Missouri News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — As Missouri Gov. Mike Parson continues to recover from the coronavirus, his office is declining to say how many members of his staff also have tested positive.

Parson’s spokeswoman, Kelli Jones, has not responded to several requests for information on staff illnesses, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday. Jones did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Associated Press.

The decision not to provide information on illnesses within the office differs from the practice of other state agencies that have routinely reported virus cases since the pandemic began. For example, the Missouri Department of Corrections has reported 613 positive tests among employees since the onset of the pandemic, and the Department of Mental Health says 384 workers have tested positive, with four deaths.

An estimated three dozen people work closely with the Republican governor. Parson and his wife, Teresa, tested positive on Sept. 23. Neither has developed serious symptoms.

Parson’s office earlier confirmed a number of staffers on his team were in quarantine and working from home after the Parsons’ positive tests.

Meanwhile, Missouri leaders were still declining to impose new restrictions or mandate masks, even as the state remained in the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s “red zone.”

Missouri’s rate of new COVID-19 cases and percentage of positive test results were among the highest in the U.S. for September, the Post-Dispatch reported. The federal task force warned that those numbers put Missouri in a vulnerable position heading into the fall and winter.

Hospitalizations in Missouri for COVID-19 rose by 29% in September to their highest levels during the pandemic, with the surge occurring largely in rural areas and mid-sized cities.

“Institute mask requirements in counties with ongoing transmission; reduce capacity for indoor dining and bars while expanding outdoor dining options,” the latest task force report, dated Sept. 27, advised.

Missouri has had no statewide restrictions since June 15.

Parson said in a livestreamed news conference this week that his staff is continuing to focus on what he calls “four pillars.” They are: increasing testing, having enough protective equipment for health workers, making sure hospitals do not reach capacity and providing transparent data.

“I want to reassure everyone that all four of these pillars are stable. We monitor this every day, and we are constantly working to improve. The fight is not over, but we are on the right track, and we will get through this,” Parson said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, told the Post-Dispatch that because of the state’s diversity, government officials are letting local leaders decide when to implement restrictions rather than enacting statewide benchmarks.

Missouri on Friday reported 1,485 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 129,397 since the pandemic began. The state also reported 16 new deaths, bringing the total to 2,144.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Mike Pence Tests Negative for COVID-19 After President Trump Was Infected, White House Says

SAUL LOEB/Getty Images Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for the novel coronavirus on Friday morning, hours after President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump said they had contracted the virus, according to the White House.

Pence’s spokesman, Devin O’Malley, said early Friday that he and Second Lady Karen Pence had both tested negative after the president was infected.

“As has been routine for months, Vice President Pence is tested for COVID-19 every day,” O’Malley wrote on Twitter. “This morning, Vice President Pence and the Second Lady tested negative for COVID-19. Vice President Pence remains in good health and wishes the Trumps well in their recovery.”

While it remained unclear how the Trumps were sickened — or if they have been showing symptoms — their diagnosis was announced in the wake of confirmation that the president’s adviser Hope Hicks was infected, too.

Hicks had recently traveled with the president as well.

On Friday morning, Pence, 61, tweeted his well wishes, saying he was praying for the Trumps, his “dear friends.”

“Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump,” the vice president wrote. “We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania.”

RELATED: Donald and Melania Trump Test Positive for Coronavirus — ‘We Will Get Through This TOGETHER!’

Pence has been leading the White House’s much scrutinized coronavirus task force, while Trump has been the face of those efforts — holding marathon televised press briefings with health officials in the spring and summer.

In May, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shut down a reporter’s question regarding what procedure, if any, would be enacted should Trump or Pence become incapacitated by the virus in the future.

“That’s not even something that we’re addressing. We’re keeping the president healthy. We’re keeping the vice president healthy and you know they’re healthy at this moment and they’ll continue to be,” McEnany said then.

Though Pence and his wife tested negative on Friday morning, according to the White House, they may still have contracted the virus: If they are tested too early in the course of infection, it can result in a false negative.

RELATED: White House Dismisses Question on Contingency Plan Should Trump or Pence Fall Ill with Coronavirus

A former aide to the vice president, who spent six months participating in meetings held by the White House coronavirus task force and who left the administration in June, recently called the administration’s response to the pandemic “frightening.”

In an interview on NBC Nightly News, Olivia Troye claimed that the president was more concerned with