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President Trump said in a video posted Saturday evening that he is doing well and expects to “be back soon” after going to a hospital with covid-19.

Saturday night, a letter from his physician released by the White House press secretary said the president has made “substantial progress” since his coronavirus diagnosis and will be closely monitored Sunday in between doses of an experimental drug,

The statements of optimism came after the White House created a startling amount of confusion about Trump’s health status and coronavirus diagnosis through conflicting statements, injecting an extraordinary degree of uncertainty into the nation’s understanding of the president’s condition and who may have been exposed. Earlier Saturday, members of Trump’s medical team said the president was making good progress but refused to answer key questions about when he was first diagnosed and first symptomatic, and whether he had received supplemental oxygen.

A senior administration official confirmed reports Trump was given oxygen at the White House on Friday before going to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, while Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said Trump went through a “very concerning” period over the last day.

“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Meadows said Saturday afternoon. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

Meadows echoed Saturday evening in a Fox News interview that the next two days could be “tough” but underscored the president’s improvement since Friday.

Here are some other significant developments:
  • Trump’s medical team suggested the president knew he tested positive for the coronavirus earlier than had been reported. Sean P. Conley, Trump’s physician, said we are “72 hours into the diagnosis,” meaning the president could have tested positive as early as Wednesday. The White House later issued a statement saying Conley misspoke.
  • Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for last week’s debate, said Saturday that he has gone to a hospital as a “precautionary measure” after testing positive for the virus.
  • At least seven people who were at a Rose Garden event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court have confirmed infections, including Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), former senior adviser to Trump, Kellyanne Conway and University of Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), both said Saturday that the committee’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett will move ahead starting Oct. 12, despite some members having the coronavirus.
  • Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and top White House aide Hope Hicks have also tested positive.
2:25 a.m.
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Trump’s blood oxygen level Friday left us ‘real concerned,’ chief of staff says

By Hannah Knowles

Trump’s health has shown “unbelievable improvement” since Friday morning, when his blood oxygen level “dropped rapidly” and left staff seriously concerned, Meadows said Saturday night on Fox News.

Echoing a Saturday evening letter from Trump’s physician, Meadows expressed optimism on Fox News but said the president is “not out of the woods.” He reiterated the importance of the coming days, saying, “the next 48 hours … with the history of this virus, we know can be tough.”

Earlier in the day, Meadows told reporters that “the president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care."

Speaking to Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro, Meadows shared more about staff’s fears Friday morning. He said that was “when I know a number of us, the doctor and I, were very concerned” about the president’s health.

Trump had a fever and plummeting oxygen levels, Meadows said. But he said the president was soon “up and walking around” even as experts recommended that he go to a hospital out of caution.

A senior administration official confirmed that Trump was given oxygen at the White House on Friday before going to Walter Reed.

2:00 a.m.
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How the everyday chaos of reporting on the Trump White House played out for the world to see Saturday

By Sarah Ellison

The dispatches began routinely enough for an out-of-the-ordinary day, with Pool Report #2 from Cheryl Bolen, the Bloomberg White House reporter on pool duty Saturday.

“Pool took vans over to Walter Reed, arriving at 10:31 a.m. We are attempting to learn the logistics of Dr. [Sean] Conley’s update on POTUS’s health, scheduled for 11:00 a.m., and will advise soonest.” The report, sent at 10:33 a.m., was a typical transmission from the email list that provides regular updates each day on the president’s activities and is, at the most basic level, the primary source for the press to communicate what is happening with the commander in chief.

But as the media continued to wait for the president’s medical team outside Walter Reed, the next four hours of reports encapsulated the chaos that has been the defining feature of covering the Trump White House — this time on what might be the most consequential moment of his presidency.

1:42 a.m.
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Sen. Ron Johnson went to GOP fundraiser while awaiting positive test

By Hannah Knowles and Colby Itkowitz

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin on Saturday defended his decision to attend a GOP fundraiser while awaiting the results of his coronavirus test, which came back positive.

Johnson is the third Republican senator to test positive for the virus in the two days since President Trump became sick. He said he remains symptom-free.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home while waiting on a coronavirus test. But Johnson said at a Saturday news conference that he felt it was fine to go to the Republican Party of Ozaukee County’s Oktoberfest dinner Friday night because he was not sick and took precautions. He wore a face mask, stayed more than the advised six feet from others and left quickly, he said.

“This was strictly a precautionary test, as I have done multiple times over the last few weeks — going to the White House, going to the Oval Office, being in Air Force One,” Johnson said. “This is the exact same thing. I’ve never quarantined after a test, there’s no reason to do so, because I’m not sick.”

He said he got his positive result on the way home from the dinner. At the news conference, he said he still opposes a statewide mask mandate.

Johnson had been quarantining in Wisconsin since Sept. 14 after he found out he’d been exposed to someone who tested positive, the senator’s spokesman Ben Voelkel said in a statement. He tested negative twice and returned to Washington on Tuesday.

Not long after, Voelkel said, Johnson was “exposed to an individual who has since tested positive” and got tested after learning of the exposure.

The statement did not reveal the identity of the person from whom Johnson thinks he contracted the virus. Two of Johnson’s Republican Senate colleagues, Mike Lee (Utah) and Thom Tillis (N.C.), tested positive this week.

1:41 a.m.
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Trump has made progress and will be closely monitored Sunday, physician letter says

By Hannah Knowles

Trump has made “substantial progress” since his coronavirus diagnosis and will be closely monitored Sunday in between doses of an experimental drug, according to a statement from his physician released Saturday night by the White House press secretary.

Trump is fever-free and finished his second dose of the experimental treatment remdesivir “without complication” Saturday evening, reads the statement attributed to White House physician Sean Conley. It says the president “spent most of the afternoon conducting business … moving about the medical suite without difficulty."

“While not yet out of the woods, the team remains cautiously optimistic,” the letter adds.

The letter says Trump remains off supplemental oxygen. But a senior administration official confirmed reports that Trump was given oxygen at the White House on Friday before going to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Earlier Saturday, members of Trump’s medical team would not answer key questions about when Trump was first diagnosed and first symptomatic and whether he got supplemental oxygen at some point.

Another statement attributed to Conley and issued by the press secretary sowed confusion Saturday, claiming that Conley spoke incorrectly when he suggested Saturday morning that Trump was diagnosed earlier than reported.

12:28 a.m.
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McConnell, Graham say Barrett confirmation hearing is still on track

By Donna Cassata and Hannah Knowles

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday that he was canceling Senate votes for the next two weeks after three senators tested positive for the coronavirus and others said they would quarantine as a precaution.

But he made clear that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett will move ahead on Oct. 12. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the committee’s chairman, also said Saturday night at a debate that “we’ll have a hearing” starting then.

“Since May, the Judiciary Committee has operated flawlessly through a hybrid method that has seen some Senators appear physically at its hearings while other members have participated virtually,” McConnell said in a statement. “The Committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved. Certainly all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Saturday he had tested positive. Two other senators — Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who serve on the Judiciary Committee — also have tested positive.

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said in a Saturday letter to Graham that proceeding now with Barrett’s confirmation hearing would threaten the safety of those involved. They argued for postponing, saying a remote hearing is inadequate for such an important matter.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the cancellation of upcoming votes makes clear senators cannot conduct business as usual.

“If It’s too dangerous to have the Senate in session it is also too dangerous for committee hearings to continue. Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham’s monomaniacal drive to confirm Judge Barrett at all costs needlessly threatens the health and safety of Senators, staff, and all those who work in the Capitol complex,” Schumer said in a statement.

12:21 a.m.
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Biden campaign says it will now disclose the result of every virus test

By Annie Linskey and Matt Viser

Joe Biden’s campaign said Saturday it will now disclose the result of every coronavirus test the Democratic nominee takes, following increased pressure for more transparency after Trump tested positive for the virus and Vice President Pence released results for two consecutive days.

“We have adhered to strict and extensive safety practices recommended by public health experts and doctors in all of our campaigning — including social distancing, mask wearing, and additional safeguards,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. “Vice President Biden is being tested regularly, and we will be releasing the results of each test.”

Bates did not say how often Biden would be undergoing such tests, beyond saying they would happen on a regular basis. The former vice president, who tested negative Friday, told reporters he had not undergone a test Saturday but would Sunday.

11:47 p.m.
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Trump says in video that he is doing well and will ‘be back soon’

By Hannah Knowles

In a video posted Saturday evening, President Trump says he is doing well and expects to “be back soon” after going to a hospital with covid-19.

“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well,” Trump says in the video he shared on Twitter. “I feel much better now.”

He acknowledged the uncertainty hanging over his health, however.

“You don’t know over the next period of a few days,” he said. “I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”

The tweet did not specify when the video was filmed.

The president said the first lady, Melania Trump, is also doing well after testing positive, noting that because she is younger she is less likely to face serious consequences from the virus. She is handling the virus “statistically, like it’s supposed to be handled,” the president said. Melania Trump is 50.

The president said he did not want to be confined to the White House, amid criticism of his decisions to travel, hold large rallies and interact with others while not wearing a mask.

“I can’t do that — I had to be out front,” Trump said. “I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs.”

Trump thanked the medical team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as well as members of the public who have supported him and world leaders who have reached out.

The president mentioned the therapeutics he is taking, praising existing and in-development treatments as “miracles.” He has received an experimental drug called remdesivir, according to his physician, as well as an “antibody cocktail” that experts say is promising but will be near-impossible to provide to everyone who wants it.

11:35 p.m.
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What we know about the coronavirus test results for 8 senators who attended Rose Garden event for Barrett nomination

By Seung Min Kim

At least seven people, including two U.S. senators, who had attended Saturday’s Rose Garden ceremony announcing Amy Coney Barrett as President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee have since tested positive for the coronavirus.

Among the roughly 150 guests at the event were eight Republican senators: either close allies of the president or members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold confirmation hearings for Barrett.

Here is what we know about the statuses of the GOP senators who attended Saturday:

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.): She has tested negative, according to an aide.

Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho): A spokesman said Crapo tested negative.

Sen. Deb Fischer (Neb.): A spokeswoman said Fischer has taken a coronavirus test and expects her results Sunday. She currently has no symptoms.

Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.): He said Saturday night that he has tested negative.

Sen. Mike Lee (Utah): He tested positive for the virus after experiencing symptoms similar to allergies, according to a statement from him. He will isolate for 10 days from getting his positive diagnosis.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Ga.): She has tested negative, according to an aide.

Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.): Sasse was most recently tested Friday and was negative, a spokesman said. But he will undergo more tests and work remotely from Nebraska, where he drove himself home after the Senate concluded its business for the week. He plans to return to Washington on Oct. 12.

Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.): Tillis tested positive on a rapid antigen test, the senator said in a statement. He is isolating at home and has mild symptoms and no fever, according to a statement from his office.

10:45 p.m.
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Experts criticize news conference as ‘evasive,’ call on White House to clarify answers about Trump’s health

By Derek Hawkins

Leading health experts criticized the Saturday morning news conference on President Trump’s condition at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as “evasive” and confusing, and called on the White House to clear up conflicting accounts of the president’s infection timeline and treatment.

“Loads more questions than answers quite frankly,” tweeted Craig Spencer, a physician and epidemiologist at Columbia University Medical Center.

“We need clear and consistent communication from the White House,” echoed Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

Speaking to reporters, Sean Conley, the president’s physician, said Trump was “just 72 hours into the diagnosis now,” which would mean he was diagnosed Wednesday morning, more than a day before Trump first disclosed his positive test. Conley also skirted questions about whether Trump had received supplemental oxygen and declined to say what lung scans had shown.

Confusion grew later in the day when the White House press secretary released a memo attributed to Conley that said the doctor “incorrectly used the term ’72 hours’ instead of ‘day three.’ ” Trump “was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on the evening of Thursday, October 1st,” read the memo, which incorrectly described the type of treatment the president received.

Eric Topol, a health professor and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, called the news conference “very disappointing” and “evasive.”

“The disclosure of the 72 hours from diagnosis leaves us with a significant time of lacking self-quarantine but instead travelling to Minnesota and New Jersey, along with many other gatherings, close contacts, that may well have further spread infections,” Topol said in an email.

Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, suggested the medical team’s responses were unbecoming of the profession.

“Reminder: white house physicians are public servants. It is not their job to be politically evasive,” he wrote. “Ducking important questions (e.g. supplemental Oxygen, last -ve test, location of infection) like a politician is inappropriate.”

There was some good news: Experts said they were relieved to hear physicians report that Trump’s fever had gone away.

But Conley’s obfuscations were concerning, they said.

Bob Wachter, chair of the University of California at San Francisco’s Department of Medicine, wrote: “Evasive answers won’t engender trust re: credible info going forward.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Jha as director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. He has left his job at Harvard.

10:33 p.m.
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Biden says he will be tested again for the coronavirus Sunday

By Matt Viser and Hannah Knowles

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he will be tested again for the coronavirus Sunday, five days after he shared a debate stage with President Trump, who is now in the hospital with covid-19.

Biden was tested twice Friday and got negative results. The former vice president has previously pledged to reveal any positive result, but throughout Saturday declined to say whether he had been tested again.

Responding to shouted questions as he left a church Saturday, Biden said he had not been tested that day.

“But I am tomorrow morning,” he said.

10:08 p.m.
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Chris Christie says he has gone to a hospital as ‘precautionary measure’ after positive test

By Derek Hawkins and Hannah Knowles

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped President Trump prepare for Tuesday night’s presidential debate, said Saturday that he has gone to a hospital as a “precautionary measure” after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“In consultation with my doctors, I checked myself into Morristown Medical Center this afternoon,” Christie tweeted. “While I am feeling good and only have mild symptoms, due to my history of asthma we decided this is an important precautionary measure.”

Christie announced Saturday morning that he had just received a positive test result.

Christie was in close contact with Trump and other senior officials in recent days.

He attended the event in the Rose Garden of the White House last Saturday where Trump announced his pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. At one point, he was seen hugging Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who also has tested positive for the virus.

On Sunday, Christie attended a news conference in the White House briefing room, along with press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani. They could be seen huddling close to one another, none of them wearing masks.

10:05 p.m.
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White House releases ‘Photos of the Week’ showing maskless Trump close to others

By Hannah Knowles

With criticism mounting over last weekend’s Rose Garden event flouting social distancing guidelines, the White House on Saturday released “Photos of the Week” underscoring President Trump’s habit of forgoing a mask while close to others.

The president’s face is covered only in photos taken Friday as he left the White House for the hospital following a coronavirus diagnosis.

The selected pictures begin last Saturday with Trump’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The ceremony introducing Barrett drew more than 150 guests who mingled indoors and outdoors without masks, sometimes hugging and shaking hands. At least seven attendees, including the first lady and two U.S. senators, have since tested positive for the coronavirus, sparking new scrutiny of the event.

The photos released Saturday by the White House highlight the ceremony’s lack of social distancing, capturing audience members seated nearly knee-to-knee on folding chairs, with few masks in sight. Trump and the first lady stand behind the podium close to Barrett and her family in one picture. In another, Barrett’s family gathers near Trump for a photo in the Oval Office.

Photos from later in the week also capture Trump and Vice President Pence — who has since tested negative for the coronavirus — conducting business and traveling without masks.

Exactly when Trump began showing symptoms is unclear, and Trump’s medical team Saturday morning suggested the president knew he tested positive earlier than reported — saying the president was “72 hours into the diagnosis.”

The White House press secretary later issued a statement, attributed to White House physician Sean Conley, that said Conley spoke incorrectly and that the president was diagnosed Thursday evening.

8:54 p.m.
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McConnell says Trump sounded ‘well’ on call

By Hannah Knowles

Trump sounded “well” and reported that he is “feeling good” in a Saturday call with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the senator said, as conflicting statements from the White House created uncertainty about Trump’s health after a coronavirus diagnosis.

McConnell tweeted that he spoke with the president about the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. McConnell has said the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Barrett will move forward on Oct. 12 despite calls to postpone after two members tested positive for the coronavirus.

Members of Trump’s medical team on Saturday morning said the president was making good progress in the hospital. But the Associated Press soon reported that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Trump’s “vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care” — a statement initially attributed in a White House pool report to a “source familiar with the president’s health.”

White House physician Sean Conley would not say at a news conference whether Trump had at any point received supplemental oxygen.

8:16 p.m.
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White House chief of staff says ‘next 48 hours critical’

By Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey

The president’s condition caused serious concern in the past 24 hours, and the next 48 hours will be critical to Trump’s recovery from the coronavirus, according to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Meadows said. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

The assessment stood in contrast with the more positive one from Trump’s White House physician and other members of his medical team during an earlier news conference at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in which they described the president as fever-free, in “exceptionally good spirits,” and telling them he felt well enough to leave the hospital that day.

The statement from Meadows was originally distributed to the media through a White House pool report and was attributed to “a source familiar with the president’s health.”

Two White House officials familiar with the statement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue, later said it was Meadows who spoke with reporters.

Meadows was also seen on camera pulling reporters aside to talk after the news conference with the doctors ended. The Associated Press, which had a reporter at the event, also later identified Meadows as the source of the comment.

Meadows did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

News outlets, including the New York Times and the AP, also reported that Trump received supplemental oxygen Friday before being flown to Walter Reed, information that White House physician Sean Conley refused to disclose at the news conference when asked if the president had been given oxygen.

Meadows’s comment and Trump’s need for extra oxygen contradict Conley and other White House aides who said Friday that Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms,” but otherwise doing well.