This article has been updated.

When President Trump was on Marine One on Thursday afternoon, heading back to the White House from a fundraising event in New Jersey, he probably had no expectation that 24 hours later he’d have just been dropped off by the same helicopter for admission to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

By that point, though, it’s likely the president already knew something was wrong. Reporting has suggested that he started feeling under the weather from a coronavirus infection as early as Wednesday, when he held a shorter-than-normal rally in Minnesota. At the fundraiser at his private club in Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday, attendees thought he seemed somewhat tired.

For the public, though, the scale of Trump’s illness only became apparent Friday afternoon, when the White House announced that the president would be headed to Walter Reed for several days. Since the diagnosis was made public early that morning, there were competing claims about how the virus was affecting Trump, leading to a sense that his condition might be worsening. To some extent, though, that’s a function of misleading claims from people not necessarily in a position to know. The administration’s message was fairly consistent — but that, too, should be taken with a grain of salt.

Here’s how the cascade of messaging played out.

Friday, Oct. 2

12:54 a.m. Trump tweets confirmation of the diagnosis, without conveying any information about how he and the first lady, who also tested positive, were feeling.

1:05 a.m. White House physician Sean Conley provides a statement released by the administration. In it, he states that the president and first lady were doing “well at this time.”

1:27 a.m. The first lady tweets that she and her husband are “feeling good.”

4:31 a.m. Unexpectedly, Trump’s former physician, Ronny L. Jackson, weighs in on Twitter. The president and first lady, he writes, are “both fine and completely asymptotic [sic].” He doesn’t indicate how he is aware of this information.

Around 6:45 a.m. Jackson appears on “Fox and Friends,” where he repeats his assertions about Trump’s condition.

“He’s asymptomatic right now,” Jackson says. “And I think that’s great. I think he’s going to continue to be asymptomatic.”

Around 9:15 a.m. Scott Atlas, a radiologist who Trump tapped to assist on the coronavirus response after seeing him interviewed on Fox News, tells the network that no one should worry about the president’s health.

“This is a widespread, highly contagious infection,” Atlas said of the virus broadly, “and this is going to be very mild or asymptomatic for the overwhelming majority of people, especially if you’re a healthy person.”

He assures the Fox News audience that there is “zero reason to panic.”

Around 10:50 a.m. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows offers the first assessment directly from the White House team. The president, he said, had “mild symptoms,” without getting into details.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed Oct. 2 that President Trump has mild symptoms of the coronavirus, but said the president is "in good spirits." (The Washington Post)

Around 12:15 p.m. In a conference call with governors that was supposed to have been led by Trump, Vice President Pence assures listeners that the president was all right.

“They are both well at this time,” he said of Trump and the first lady, “and will remain at the White House.”

The subject of the call, coincidentally, was support systems for seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 3 p.m. In another interview on Fox News, Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump had a “very moderate case” of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“Apparently he’s doing just fine,” he added.

Around 4:15 p.m. Conley writes another memo documenting Trump’s treatment. He indicates that the president has received an experimental treatment of a “polyclonal antibody therapy” and that Trump “remains fatigued but in good spirits.” The first lady remained well with “only a mild cough and a headache,” he added.

Around 4:40 p.m. The New York Times reports hearing from two individuals that Trump’s symptoms included “a low-grade fever, nasal congestion and a cough.”

5:13 p.m. The White House publicly announces that Trump will be transferred to Walter Reed.

Trump “remains in good spirits, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” the statement from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany states.

Around 6:15 p.m. Speaking to ABC News, Donald Trump Jr. confirms his father feels “a little tired.”

6:31 p.m. Trump tweets out a video recorded before he left the White House. In it, he explains he is going to Walter Reed.

“I think I’m doing very well,” he says, “but we’re going to make sure that things work out.”

Again, though, both Trump’s and the White House’s assertions should be considered with skepticism.

11:34 p.m. Late Friday evening, McEnany released a new statement from Conley.

“[T]he President is doing very well,” it read. “He is not requiring any supplemental oxygen, but in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate Remdesivir therapy.”

The utility of the anti-viral drug remdesivir as a therapy is unclear.

Saturday, Oct. 3

Shortly before noon. Conley and the medical team at Walter Reed hold a news briefing.

“Just 72 hours into the diagnosis now, the first week of covid — and particularly days seven to 10 — are the most critical and determining the likely course of this illness,” Conley said. “At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made. Thursday, he had a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.”

A later update from the White House corrected the confusing timeline: Conley had meant that the disease was in its third day (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) and not its 72nd hour (which would stretch back to Wednesday morning).

“It’s important to note the president’s been fever-free for over 24 hours,” Conley said. ” … He did have a fever Thursday into Friday and since Friday morning, he’s had none.”

Another physician described the “special antibody therapy” Trump had received and indicated that he’d received a second dose of remdesivir.

Conley declined to offer many specifics, though he did say Trump’s oxygen level was at about 96 percent at the most recent reading. He also said Trump’s heart rate “is in the 70s, 80s” and his blood pressure “has remained where it’s historically been during our physicals.”

“There’s been no sign of any lung damage whatsoever,” Conley said. “We are following all of that. We do daily ultrasounds, daily lab work. The team is tracking all of that.”

Reporters asked if Trump had received supplemental oxygen, with Conley repeatedly and pointedly saying the president was not currently being treated in that way.

12:15 p.m. An official, speaking on background, tells the White House press pool that Trump’s condition Friday was worse than initially indicated.

“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,” the report read. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

Early afternoon. The Associated Press reports Trump did receive supplemental oxygen Friday.

1:19 p.m. Trump tweets that he is “feeling well.”

4:32 p.m. The New York Post publishes an interview with Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani. Giuliani offers a message he says came directly from the president.

“You go tell people I’m watching this coverage [reporting he’s taken a turn for the worse],” it reads. “I feel I could get out of here right now. But they’re telling me there can always be a backstep with this disease. But I feel I could go out and do a rally.”

“I am the president of the United States. I can’t lock myself in a room. … I had to confront [the virus] so the American people stopped being afraid of it so we could deal with it responsibly,” it continued. “We have made tremendous progress on treating this disease. Fatality rates are very low compared to [the beginning]. I’m going to beat this.”

6:51 p.m. A video of Trump speaking is published on his main Twitter account, echoing some of what Giuliani provided the New York Post.

“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well,” Trump said. “I feel much better now. We’re working hard to get me all the way back.”

“I just want to tell you that I’m starting to feel good,” he added later. “You don’t know over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test. So we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”

9:08 p.m. Another update from Conley via McEnany.

“President Trump continues to do well, having made substantial progress since diagnosis,” it read. ” … He remains fever-free and off supplemental oxygen with a saturation level between 96 and 98% all day.”

“While not yet out of the woods,” it continued, “the team remains cautiously optimistic.”

Around 9:30 p.m. Meadows speaks to Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro by phone.

“He is doing extremely well. In fact, I’m — I’m very, very optimistic, based on the current results,” Meadows said. “As the doctor said, he’s not out of the woods. The next 48 hours or so, with the history of this virus, we know, can be — can be tough. But he’s made unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning, when I know a number of us, the doctor and I, were — were very concerned.”

Later, he offered more detail on those “mild symptoms” that he’d reported the day prior.

“The biggest thing that we see is — is that, with no fever now and with him doing really well with his oxygen saturation levels, we — yesterday morning, we — we were real concerned with that,” he said. “You know, he had a fever and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly.”

“The therapeutics that he’s on, hopefully those will produce good results and quick results and give hope — give hope for the American people,” Meadows added near the end of the interview. “That’s what this president is all about.”

Sunday, Oct. 4

Around 11:30 a.m. Conley held another news briefing.

“Since we spoke last,” he said, “the president has continued to improve. As with any illness, there are frequent ups and downs over the course, particularly when a patient is being so closely watched.”

The doctor provided some new information, including that:

  • Trump experienced a drop in his oxygen saturation levels Saturday morning as well as Friday. During the episode on Friday morning, Conley recommended Trump use supplemental oxygen — over the president’s purported objections.
  • One drop (it’s not clear which) was below 94 percent saturation, Conley said, but “it wasn’t down to the low 80s or anything.”
  • Trump’s medical team responded to the drops by giving him dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid. To some experts, this is a sign that Trump’s disease is more severe than is otherwise being described.
  • There were some “expected findings” on a scan of Trump’s lungs, but “nothing of any major clinical concern.”
  • Trump may be discharged from the hospital and back to the White House as early as Monday.

Asked why he misled reporters on the use of oxygen in his briefing on Saturday, Conley called it a “good question.”

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had,” he said. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”

“The fact of the matter is, is that he’s doing really well,” Conley added.

1:38 p.m. White House communications director Alyssa Farah spoke briefly with reporters, unmasked.

When asked about Conley’s misrepresentation of Trump’s treatments during his briefing on Saturday, she called Conley’s response “a snapshot in time.”

“Saturday, the president was doing extremely well,” Farah said. “Friday was a little bit more concerning, but he continues to trend upward.”

She also said she disagreed that Conley’s briefing wasn’t accurate but that the White House team nonetheless “came and gave supplemental information after the fact."

“We can trust the information he’s giving,” Farah said, “but if we later have supplementary information, you have my commitment.”