Covid-19 Live Updates: Trump’s Physician Says the President’s Oxygen Levels Dropped and He Took Steroid Treatment

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Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, gave an update on the well-being of President Trump, who is in his third day of coronavirus treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump’s medical team acknowledged delivering an overly rosy description of the president’s illness on Saturday.

“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true,” Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, said in a briefing with reporters.

The doctors said that Mr. Trump had a “high fever” on Friday and a second incident yesterday where his oxygen levels dropped. They were not clear if he was administered oxygen again.

Dr. Conley also said that the president had also been given the steroid dexamethasone on Saturday.

The drug has been shown to help patients who are severely ill with Covid-19, but it is typically not used in mild or moderate cases of the disease, and in fact could be harmful early in the course of the disease, when steroids could dampen the body’s own immune response.

On Sept. 2, the World Health Organization issued guidelines recommending that the steroid only be given to patients with “severe and critical Covid-19.”

A large study in Britain of the drug found that dexamethasone helped those who had been sick for more than a week, reducing deaths by one-third among patients on mechanical ventilators and by one-fifth among patients receiving supplemental oxygen by other means.

Nonetheless, the doctors said, Mr. Trump is doing better and they projected he could be discharged back to the White House from the hospital as early as Monday. The briefing came a day after a messy and conflicting presentation from the doctors about whether Mr. Trump had serious medical issues on Friday.


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President Trump released a video update on his health from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The message came after a day of confusing reports.

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.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Since the moment shortly before 1 a.m. on Friday when President Trump first revealed to the nation that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, conflicting information offered by his doctors and aides has added confusion to an already anxious moment, leaving Americans to wonder whether the president’s condition was improving or was “very concerning.”

On Sunday, Mr. Trump’s medical team clarified that they had given an overly rosy description of the president’s illness on Saturday.

But it remained unclear exactly when his illness had been diagnosed, when he had first developed symptoms, how severe those symptoms were and whether he had been treated with oxygen at any point.

Here is a timeline of information released before Sunday on Mr. Trump’s health:

Early Saturday, in the first official briefing by Mr. Trump’s doctors since he fell ill, the White House physician, Sean P. Conley, painted a relentlessly positive assessment of Mr. Trump’s condition.

“The team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” Dr. Conley said then.

His tone was a bit more guarded in the latest update. Dr. Conley said in a statement Saturday night that while the president is “not yet out of the woods, the team remains cautiously optimistic.”

Dr. Conley and others on the team declined to provide important specifics, and left an impression that the president had been known to be sick a day earlier than previously reported, forcing them to backtrack later.

At the morning briefing, Dr. Conley said that the president was not receiving supplemental oxygen at that time, but he repeatedly declined to say definitively whether Mr. Trump had ever been on oxygen.

“None at this moment, and yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” Dr. Conley said, leaving open whether there had been a period on Friday when he was on oxygen.

Two people close to the White House said in separate interviews with The New York Times that the president had experienced trouble breathing on Friday and that his blood oxygen level had dropped, prompting his doctors to give him supplemental oxygen at the White House and then to transfer him to Walter Reed.

Dr. Conley also appeared to indicate that the president’s infection was first diagnosed on Wednesday, and not on Thursday night, as Mr. Trump had said when he disclosed the positive test on Twitter early Friday. As Dr. Conley was describing what he said was the president’s progress, he said that Mr. Trump was “just 72 hours into the diagnosis now,” which would have put the diagnosis at midday on Wednesday.

After the early briefing on Saturday, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, offered a far more sobering assessment of the president’s condition than the doctors had. Speaking to reporters outside Walter Reed, Mr. Meadows described the president’s vital signs as “very concerning.”

“We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery,” he said.

Mr. Meadows, whose comments were said to have angered the president, later called to Fox News and said that Mr. Trump had shown “unbelievable improvement.”

Mr. Trump was said by three administration officials and people close to him to indeed be in better shape, which added to the frustration among some White House advisers that Dr. Conley and Mr. Meadows had created such confusion.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

The White House has not sought help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to trace the contacts of people who attended a celebration on Saturday for Judge Amy Conley Barrett, according to a federal official familiar with the matter.

Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, told reporters on Saturday that his team was working with the agency to trace contacts. But according to the federal official, while the C.D.C. had a team of experts on standby to help the White House, it has not been approached to do so.

In an interview Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, also offered evidence suggesting that no robust contact tracing effort was underway. Dr. Gottleib said he had spoken to several officials who attended the event in the Rose Garden and that they had not been contacted by anyone.

“I think they have an obligation to understand how the infection was introduced into that environment,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be a very concerted effort underway.”

Saturday’s celebration for Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court is increasingly seeming like a “super spreader event.” At least seven people who attended the events, including President Trump, have already tested positive for the virus.

A few other attendees have tested negative, but negative results are common early in the course of infection, when the levels of virus are low. For that reason, C.D.C. guidelines recommend that anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should quarantine for two weeks.

The lack of attention to contact tracing has potentially devastating consequences for the hundreds of people who have come into contact with those who may have become infected Saturday. Any of them could have gone on to transmit the virus to many others.

President Trump debated former Vice President Joe Biden, traveled to a rally of thousands in Minnesota, met with supporters at a golf club in New Jersey and conferred with dozens of aides at the White House, all while not wearing a mask.

Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey who conferred with the president before Tuesday’s debate, has tested positive and been hospitalized.

The C.D.C. has experts who are trained in contact tracing and could have immediately put an operation into place to trace contacts of President Trump and others who have been infected. The experts would have worked with health departments of the states in which incidents occurred. In the case of the White House, “we would help if we were asked,” the official said. But no such request came through, he said: “We don’t get involved unless we’re asked to get involved.”

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Two members of the White House residence staff tested positive for the coronavirus roughly three weeks ago, according to two people familiar with the diagnoses.

The people who tested positive were not employees who come in direct contact with the president and the first lady, one of the people familiar with the diagnoses said. But the positive results again raise questions about how and when President Trump may have been exposed to the virus.

Judd Deere, a spokesman for the president, declined to comment specifically on the diagnoses, referring to a statement about not commenting on the personal health of individuals.

The White House “does take any positive case seriously and has extensive plans and procedures in place to prevent further spread,” he said. “A full and complete contact trace consistent with C.D.C. guidelines is included in that and appropriate notifications and recommendations are made. “

Credit…Vatican Media, via Shutterstock

Pope Francis criticized the failures of global cooperation in response to the coronavirus pandemic in a document released on Sunday that underscores the priorities of his pontificate.

“As I was writing this letter, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities,” Francis said in the encyclical, the most authoritative form of papal teaching. “Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all,” he added.

“Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality,” the pope said.

Released amid another Vatican financial scandal and after changes in church rules regarding sex abuse, the letter steered clear of other contentious subjects. It instead returned often to some of the church’s hobbyhorses, including a secularism that has produced what the church sees as a throwaway, consumerist culture.

Francis argued that this was apparent in the treatment of older people during the pandemic.

“If only we might keep in mind all those elderly persons who died for lack of respirators, partly as a result of the dismantling, year after year, of health care systems. If only this immense sorrow may not prove useless, but enable us to take a step forward toward a new style of life,” he wrote.

The pope also warned that the forces of “myopic, extremist, resentful and aggressive nationalism are on the rise.”

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey who for several days this week helped the president prepare for the debate, said he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mr. Christie announced his condition on Saturday, becoming the latest of several Trump associates to get a positive test result.

“I want to thank all of my friends and colleagues who have reached out to ask how I was feeling in the last day or two,” he said on Twitter.

In another tweet later on Saturday, Mr. Christie said he had checked himself in to the Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, N.J., on Saturday afternoon after consulting with his doctors.

“While I am feeling good and only have mild symptoms, due to my history of asthma we decided this is an important precautionary measure,” he said.

Mr. Christie’s statement came one day after Bill Stepien, President Trump’s campaign manager, tested positive for the virus. An administration official confirmed late Saturday that Nick Luna, who serves as Mr. Trump’s “body man” and is constantly in proximity to him, also tested positive.

Mr. Christie and Mr. Stepien were among several advisers who huddled with Mr. Trump and others for debate preparation from Sunday to Tuesday.

That group also included Hope Hicks, one of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers, and Kellyanne Conway, the former senior White House aide, both of whom have since tested positive.

No one wore masks during the preparation, Mr. Christie said.

Ms. Conway and Mr. Christie also attended a White House event on Sept. 26 announcing Mr. Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Others who attended and said they have tested positive include Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah; Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina; and the Rev. John I. Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame.

Credit…Pool photo by Guglielmo Mangiapane

As President Trump remains hospitalized with Covid-19, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will cut short a trip to Asia this week, canceling stops in South Korea and Mongolia but continuing with a visit to Japan.

From Sunday through Tuesday he will be in Tokyo, where he will participate in a meeting of foreign ministers from Australia, India and Japan to discuss the pandemic and other issues.

“Secretary Pompeo expects to be traveling to Asia again in October and will work to reschedule visits on that trip, that is now just a few weeks off,” a State Department spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, said in a brief written statement Saturday. She did not specify why the schedule had been changed.

Mr. Pompeo earlier alluded to the possibility of curtailing his Asia visit because of the novel coronavirus infections in the president’s circle.

“If we can’t — if have to postpone a trip or cancel something, we’ll figure out how to get it back on the schedule,” he told reporters on Friday. “But I’m hopeful we can at least make sure we get to Asia for sure — some important things, but we’ll see. If the medical situation doesn’t permit it, we won’t do that. We won’t put anybody at risk.”

Mr. Pompeo said that he had tested negative on Friday and had last met with Mr. Trump on Sept. 15.

Credit…Pool photo by Adam Davy

On Sunday, more than 40,000 people were expected to run the London Marathon just not together.

Instead, runners were scattered across Britain and more than 100 other countries, after organizers encouraged the vast majority of participants to run 26.2 miles at a time that worked for them wherever they happened to be.

Those who took part in the geographically distanced race were told to log their performances on a dedicated app to claim their medals and official T-shirts.

The official course in St. James’s Park in central London 19 laps of 1.3 miles each, plus an additional 1,470 yards was restricted to a relative handful of elite runners. The race, which was postponed from April, is one of the only major marathons to be maintained in any form this year.

Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, who won the 2019 edition and is the current world-record holder in the women’s marathon, defended her title on Sunday, finishing in 2 hours 18 minutes 58 seconds.

Kosgei, 26, told the BBC that while it was “wonderful to race,” her preparation had been affected by the pandemic.

“I struggled up to the moment I finished,” she said.

In the men’s race, the Ethiopian runner Shura Kitata, 24, won in a sprint finish, crossing the line in 2:05.41, a second before Vincent Kipchumba of Kenya. World-record holder Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who has won the London Marathon four times, came in eighth.

Prince Harry said Saturday in a message published by the race’s organizers that “the amazing tenacity of runners from around the world is a reminder of our strength and sense of community during these difficult times.”

Credit…Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

As campuses across the United States struggle to carry on amid Covid-19 illnesses and outbreaks, a determined minority are beating the pandemic — at least for the moment — by holding infections to a minimum and allowing students to continue living in dorms and attend in-person classes.

Being located in small towns, having minimal fraternity and sorority life, and aggressively enforcing social-distancing measures all help in suppressing the contagion, experts say. But one major thread connects the most successful campuses: extensive testing.

Small colleges in New England — where the Broad Institute, a large academic laboratory affiliated with M.I.T. and Harvard, is supporting a regional testing and screening program with more than 100 colleges — are showing particularly low rates of infection. The partnership tests students frequently and pays $25 to $30 per test to have the samples processed overnight at the institute’s lab in Cambridge, Mass.

The program has allowed Colby College, with about 2,000 students on its rural Maine campus, to test each student before and after arrival on campus, then twice weekly thereafter, using a nasal swab PCR test that takes less than three minutes to conduct. Faculty and staff members are also tested twice weekly. So far, the campus has had 11 positive tests, a few of which turned out to be false positives, said David Greene, the school’s president.

In one case, the testing identified a student who had apparently caught the coronavirus on the way to campus and did not have a sufficient viral load to test positively upon entry, he said. By the time the infection was caught in the next round of testing two days later, contact tracing revealed that a roommate had been infected.

“It could have been 150 people, and we kept it to one person,” Mr. Greene said.

Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

In a normal year, millions of people in South Korea would be spending this weekend visiting family in their hometowns in celebration of Chuseok, the rough Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving.

But this year, the government has asked South Koreans to stay home, to avoid exacerbating the country’s latest coronavirus outbreak.

Many South Koreans have grudgingly followed orders, but their acquiescence comes with an emotional price: A normally joyful time of year now feels empty of its sacred rituals, and clouded with feelings of anxiety and disorientation.

“Watching my parents grow older and change often worries me, but seeing them in person puts my mind at ease again,” said Joo Jae-wook, 57, a retired salesman who has traveled with his brothers to their hometown every Chuseok for the past three decades. “But this year I can’t even do that.”

South Korea, a nation of about 50 million, has reported 421 deaths and more than 24,000 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, including almost 500 new cases in the past week. The country’s response has been widely praised as a model, but a recent outbreak that began in Seoul has tested the government’s strategy of using social-distancing restrictions and extensive tracking to keep the virus at bay without shutting down the economy.

Last week, President Moon Jae-in told the nation that South Korea’s people were observing Chuseok at a “difficult time,” and that their sacrifices would be rewarded. “The government will surely repay the people who have endured the difficulties by succeeding in controlling the virus and protecting the economy,” he said.

In other global developments:

  • The United Kingdom reported a record 12,871 new cases on Saturday evening, double the number daily infections from Friday. The nation is working to contain a second coronavirus wave, and the government said the spike was the result of a “technical issue” that delayed the publication of some cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that the situation would be “bumpy” until Christmas and potentially longer. Britons, he added, should behave “fearlessly, but with common sense.”

  • France reported some 17,000 new cases of infection on Saturday as an ongoing surge in cases forced the closure of bars and restaurants in the southern port of Marseilles. Rising infection rates mean similar closures could soon apply in the capital, Paris.

  • Poland’s government said the country surpassed 100,000 total cases on Sunday for the first time.

  • Russia on Sunday recorded more than 10,000 new infections for the first time since mid-May during the outbreak’s peak there, reporting 10,499 cases. President Vladimir V. Putin, who encouraged his country to return to normal, has built himself a virus-free bubble that far outstrips the protective measures taken by many of his foreign counterparts.

  • India on Sunday reported 75,829 new infections and 940 deaths, a day after it became the third country after the United States and Brazil to pass 100,000 deaths.

  • Israelis opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his handling of the pandemic protested across the country on Saturday night, despite new restrictions on public assembly, Agence France-Presse reported. In Tel Aviv, the capital, demonstrators staged several simultaneous marches in different parts of the city, an A.F.P. photographer there said. The police did not give an estimate on the number of protesters. In Jerusalem, the Israeli news media estimated that about 200 people were protesting outside Mr. Netanyahu’s official residence, a marked contrast with the thousands who were there a week earlier. Parliament on Wednesday approved a law restricting demonstrations as part of a coronavirus-related state of emergency, which critics say is aimed at silencing demonstrations against Mr. Netanyahu.

Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

New York reopened classrooms for hundreds of thousands of students last week, after a tumultuous summer of last-minute changes. But the city’s ambitious plan to randomly test students for the coronavirus in each of its 1,800 public schools will probably be insufficient to catch outbreaks before they spread beyond a handful of students, according to new estimates of the spread of infections in city schools.

The city plans to test a random sample of 10 to 20 percent of people, including students and adults, in each city school once a month starting next week, already a herculean task.

But in order to reliably detect outbreaks and prevent them from spinning out of control, New York may need to test about half of the students at each school twice a month, researchers at New York University estimated. Experiences in Germany, Israel and other countries suggest that outbreaks could spread quickly despite the city’s relatively low rate of infection, the researchers said.

“The outbreaks could be quite large by the time they are detected by the monthly, 10-to-20-percent testing,” said Anna Bershteyn, the lead author of the new analysis and assistant professor of population health at N.Y.U.

The testing issue took on fresh urgency this week, when Mayor Bill de Blasio reported that the city’s average test positivity rate, which has been extremely low throughout the summer, had begun to tick up. If the virus continues to surge, the entire public school system could shutter.

The finding underscores how daunting testing will be in any district trying to reopen for some in-person classes, and particularly in New York, which is home to a system of 1.1 million students, about half of whom returned to classrooms this week.

Credit…Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The N.F.L. postponed a highly anticipated game scheduled for Sunday between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs until Monday or Tuesday after positive coronavirus tests on both teams. According to multiple reports, Cam Newton, the Patriots quarterback, was among those who tested positive.

The Patriots confirmed a positive test but did not identify the player. In a statement released Saturday, the team said the player entered isolation and that subsequent testing on players and staff members who had been in contact with him had come back negative.

The new positive tests come after the N.F.L. spent much of the week scrambling to address an outbreak of positive tests among the Tennessee Titans. That team reported 11 positive tests among players and team personnel, which forced the league to push its scheduled Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers back to Oct. 25, Week 7 of the football calendar.

In a statement, the league said that the Patriots and the Chiefs were consulting with infectious disease experts and working closely with the N.F.L. and the players’ association “to evaluate multiple close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments.”

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