President Donald Trump didn’t want to go to the hospital in the first place. Trump was admitted only after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows insisted he leave the White House when he spiked a fever Friday morning, was coughing and his blood oxygen level threatened to dip dangerously low, say two current White House officials. All along, Trump’s been a challenging patient, insisting on shaping the course of his care as well as stage managing how his health is projected to the public.
After being shuttled to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center by helicopter on Friday evening, Trump pressed to be sent home all weekend. He pushed his doctors to find a way to administer back at the White House the aggressive therapies he’s been receiving. On Monday, he announced his hospital discharge on Twitter hours before it happened, a tactic he’s often used to ram through a decision his staff were slow-walking. It didn’t take long for Trump to spin his return to the White House into a campaign tagline. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump wrote on Twitter. He later tweeted about the day’s 1.68% stock market gain, a metric he watches closely, and likes to take credit for.
Medical doctors warn Trump could still be a few days away from what can the most dangerous part of the COVID-19 disease cycle, called the cytokine storm, when the body’s immune response rages and can overwhelm its own function. “He’s a high risk individual and he is now entering a potentially unstable part of his clinical course,” says Dr. Howard Koh, a Harvard professor on health policy who was a senior health official in the Obama Administration. “The last thing we want for his health is to be discharged too early and be readmitted.”
During his hospital stay, while peppering doctors with his own ideas for his treatment, Trump has also insisted on projecting an image of working, putting out photos and videos that show him upright and not infirm, despite the severity of his condition that the unusually aggressive cocktail of drugs he is taking would suggest.
On Saturday evening, for example, after he started a steroid treatment used for patients with severe bouts of COVID-19, Trump sat for two photographs taken ten minutes apart of him with what appear to be the same folders and documents on two different tables in two different rooms. Then on Sunday, Trump put his own health and the health of two accompanying Secret Service officers in jeopardy by staging a ride past supporters in his limousine, a move that was “really ill advised,” Koh says.
As Trump moves back into his residence, Trump’s doctors will continue the full-court-press-style therapeutic treatment that, for any other patient who is not the President of the United States, would not be given anywhere but in a hospital. He has one more intravenous drip of the antiviral drug Remdesivir that has been shown to help slow the