As concerns for his health flew into overdrive on Saturday following mixed messages from the White House, President Trump released a four-minute video from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center promising to “be back soon” and saying he is “starting to feel good.”
The video marked Trump’s lengthiest public appearance since his diagnosis, which he announced in the early hours of Friday morning. Looking paler than usual, he said he believes he will soon be “finishing up the campaign the way it was started.”
“But this was something that happened, and it’s happened to millions of people all over the world, and I’m fighting for them, not just in the U.S. I’m fighting for them all over the world,” he said, describing the treatments he has been receiving as “miracles from God.” His physician has said he received the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, which was granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus patients who are severely ill or hospitalized. Trump was also treated with Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail, an experimental drug, prior to his hospitalization.
“I just want to tell you that I’m starting to feel good… 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,” he said.
Hours earlier, an optimistic assessment of the president’s health by his physician, Dr. Sean Conley, was quickly upended when a source close to the situation—apparently Trump’s own chief of staff, Mark Meadows—gave a decidedly grim prognosis citing “very concerning” vitals that meant “the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.”
After expressing gratitude for the get-well messages he’s received, Trump appeared to defend his decision to hold campaign rallies and go about business as usual during the pandemic.
“But I had no choice. Because I just didn’t want to stay in the White House. I was given that alternative. Stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave, don’t even go to the Oval Office… Don’t see people, don’t talk to people, and just be done with it. And I can’t do that. I had to be out front, and, this is America, this is the United States, this is the greatest country in the world.
“I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe, and just say hey, whatever happens, happens. We have to confront problems. As a leader, you have to confront problems. There’s never been a great leader that would have done that.”
His comments echoed spin first made by Fox News host Greg Gutfeld a day earlier. Gutfeld argued that the president had “put himself on the line” and got infected with COVID-19 to show the American people not to “hide” from the virus. In a letter made public by the New York Post that Rudy Giuliani said Trump dictated from his hospital bed, the president said he was going to “beat” the virus and that he “had to confront [the virus] so the American people stopped being afraid of it so we could deal with it responsibly.”