WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump arrived at the hospital Friday after he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, raising fresh questions about the president’s health.
Trump, 74, went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, in what aides said was a precautionary move. Officials said they expected him to be there for a few days.
Hours after arriving to the hospital, the White House released a memo from Sean Conley, the president’s physician, indicating Trump did not need to be put on oxygen but was starting remdesivir therapy, which is used for hospitalized adults who need oxygen but are not sick enough to require ventilation. Conley noted Trump was “doing very well,” had completed his first dose and was “resting comfortably.”
Earlier Friday evening, Trump boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, en route to Walter Reed, which is about 9 miles away from the White House, in his first public appearance since he tested positive for the coronavirus. Wearing a mask and a navy suit and blue tie, he gave reporters the thumbs up as he walked across the lawn but did not stop to take questions.
In taped remarks before his departure, Trump tried to assure the public that he and the first lady were doing well.
“I’m going to Walter Reed Hospital, I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out,” Trump said. “The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president “remains in good spirits, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady,” she added.
The president’s diagnosis, which he tweeted just before 1 a.m. on Friday, sent shockwaves through Washington and across the country, causing markets to plummet just weeks before the presidential election.
The president received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail as a precautionary measure, according to a memo from White House physician Dr. Sean Conley. The antibody cocktail is being studied in four late-stage clinical trials and its safety and efficacy have not been fully evaluated by any regulatory authority, the company said on its page.
The president also has been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin, Conley said.
“As of this afternoon, the President remains fatigued but in good spirits,” Conley said, according to the memo.
Conley said the first lady was experiencing only a “mild cough and headache.” He added that other members of the president’s family are well and tested negative for COVID-19.
“We’re having to hold him back a little here because he is hard at work,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News on Friday afternoon.
When asked whether Trump would address the nation about his health in the coming days, McEnany said: “It’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing and hearing from the president as he moves forward with his working schedule.”
Trump revealed his test results after one of his closest advisers, Hope Hicks, who joined the president on a series of recent trips, had been infected. Hicks began feeling symptoms on a return flight from the president’s rally in Minnesota on Wednesday and was isolated from other passengers on the plane.
White House officials knew Hicks tested positive before Trump traveled to his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., to attend a fundraiser Thursday, Meadows confirmed.
“I can tell you in terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as Marine One was taking off yesterday,” Meadows said.
He added that some people who had been traveling and in close contact with Hicks were removed from the flight, raising questions about why the president proceeded with the fundraiser, which saw him come in contact with dozens of supporters.
Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative. Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden announced they also tested negative after coming into contact with the president at Tuesday’s first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Officials said presidents have a suite of offices at Walter Reed, and doctors recommended that Trump use it as a precaution in light of his positive COVID test.
Aides insisted the president is fine, walking around and talking, and that this is a precautionary move.
If the president should need a procedure and becomes incapacitated, he will temporarily cede authority to Pence.
Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which lays out succession should the president become incapacitated, has only been invoked three times since it was adopted in 1967.
Former President Ronald Reagan invoked it when he had surgery to remove a cancerous polyp in his large intestine in 1985 and George W. Bush twice used it when he underwent routine colonoscopies.
At 74, the president is five times more likely to be hospitalized and 90 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than someone between the ages of 18 and 29, according to the CDC.
☕ The latest:
The world reacts: The world expressed sympathy as well as a bit of schadenfreude, at the news Trump tested positive for coronavirus.
Where Trump has been: Trump has been traveling and meeting with people a lot over the past few days, including trips to Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, plus a White House ceremony to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Hope Hicks: White House adviser Hope Hicks also tested positive for COVID-19, it was announced Thursday.
What people said: Rachel Maddow offered sympathy, Julian Castro said “I hope this a wake-up call that this virus is not a hoax or something cured by injecting bleach.”
Markets headed for a drop: Dow futures – which predict how the Dow Jones Industrial Average will move when the market opens for trading in the morning – fell Friday on news of Trump’s diagnosis. Similarly, futures connected to the Nasdaq and S&P 500 signaled sharp drops.
What’s Trump’s risk?: Because of his age and obesity, Trump is in two very high-risk groups for developing severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization and death.
? 32 days until Election Day, five days until the vice presidential debate, 110 days until Inauguration Day, 91 days left in 2020.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Trump hospitalized at Walter Reed after testing positive for COVID-19