President Donald Trump was said to be “resting comfortably” late Friday after being taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to be treated for COVID-19. White House physician Sean Conley said the president was “doing very well” after beginning Remdesivir therapy.
The physician noted that Trump “is not requiring supplemental oxygen.”
The president also offered a brief statement on Twitter hours after getting settled into the hospital. “Going well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!” he wrote.
His hospitalization on Friday prompted alarm among many still reeling from his diagnosis a day earlier. Conley reported the president feeling “fatigued” and said he had been given a single dose of an experimental drug to treat his condition.
Soon after, Marine One landed on the South Lawn just before 5:30 p.m. and Trump left the White House about an hour later to board the flight to Bethesda. He walked to the helicopter wearing a suit and a face mask.
In a brief video posted to his official Twitter account after his departure, Trump said he was heading to the hospital to “make sure that things work out.” “I think I’m doing very well,” he said, adding that the first lady was also “doing very well.”
He is expected to undergo tests and observation, The New York Times and Fox News reported. He is expected to stay in the hospital for a few days.
“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,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
The president shocked the world when he tweeted at 12:54 a.m. Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had both contracted the virus, throwing his re-election campaign into chaos 32 days before the election, and presenting the most serious health threat to a sitting president in decades.
Trump received a single eight gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail “as a precautionary measure,” Conley said in a Friday afternoon memo. He’s also been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine (an antihistamine and antacid), melatonin and daily aspirin.
Regeneron’s antibody cocktail doesn’t have FDA approval but has emergency approval and near the end of its Phase 3 trials. It has been found to reduce the viral load and improve symptoms in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Trump was “fatigued but in good spirits,” while first lady Melania had a “mild cough and a headache,” Conley said.
The memo didn’t mention hydroxychloroquine, the controversial anti-malarial drug Trump has repeatedly touted as a coronavirus treatment. He reportedly took the drug for two weeks in May as a preventative measure.
In an earlier memo, Conley had said he expected the president would “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
However, Trump missed the only engagement on his public schedule Friday—a noon phone call with state leaders “on COVID-19 support to vulnerable seniors”—and hadn’t tweeted anything all Friday until his video statement was posted just before 7 p.m.
According to NBC, Trump will stay at his own suite on the south side of the the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Inside, the president will have access to his own ICU and secure conference room. The White House chief of staff will also have an office space at the medical center, and Trump’s doctor will get his own sleeping quarters.
Speaking to reporters on Friday morning without a face mask on, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the president was experiencing “mild symptoms” and remained in “good spirits and is very energetic.” He didn’t provide any detail on any treatment the pair were receiving.
“He’s in the residence now and, in true fashion, he’s probably critiquing the way I’m answering these questions,” Meadows said, before later admitting: “This news was shocking—if this disease can reach the White House, it can reach anyone, anywhere, in any house.”
Moments later, the first lady tweeted that she was also experiencing “mild symptoms but overall feeling good.” “Thank you for the love you are sending our way,” she added.
The bombshell news came hours after the president confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of his closest aides, had tested positive for COVID-19. Hicks traveled with Trump multiple times in the past week—she flew with the commander-in-chief to campaign rallies in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, as well as to Tuesday’s presidential debate in Ohio.
Meadows said they learnt of Hicks’ positive test on Thursday night, “right as Marine One was taking off” for a fundraiser at Trump’s New Jersey golf club. Despite that, Trump went ahead with the event, mingling with guests and even posing for photos with supporters.
On Friday, The New York Times also revealed that RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tested positive on Wednesday and met with the president a week ago. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who visited the White House a few days ago, also announced Friday he’d tested positive.
The Trump campaign canned all scheduled events involving Trump and his family, including one scheduled for Friday in Florida, raising the prospect that the diagnosis will derail the campaign just 32 days out from Election Day. Both Trump, 74, and his opponent Joe Biden, 77, are considered to be in the high-risk category for the virus.
Biden and his wife, Jill, tested negative on Friday morning, the former vice president said. He came into contact with Trump on Tuesday night for a presidential debate but the pair remained distant and didn’t shake hands. The Trump campaign and the White House reportedly made no effort to contact the Biden camp about possible exposure—forcing the Democratic nominee to learn of the president’s diagnosis from the news.
“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family,” Biden tweeted. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), also wished the Trumps a “full and speedy recovery.” She tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday.
In contrast, the president’s niece, Mary Trump, who released a scathing book about her uncle and his siblings this year, said she had no sympathy for him.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday morning, according to the veep’s press secretary.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also returned a negative test, as did Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to the White House. Trump’s 14-year-old son, Barron, has also tested negative but is taking all necessary precautions.
Meadows said Friday that the president’s “core group” had been tested. Meadows, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, and others had tested negative.
But, he added, “I fully expect that, as this virus continues to go on, other people in the White House will certainly have a positive test result.”
A negative test result may not necessarily mean anyone is out of the woods. According to the CDC, anyone who has been exposed to an individual with COVID-19 should quarantine for two weeks, as it may take several days for symptoms of the the deadly virus to appear.
Before announcing his test result, the president had phoned into Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Thursday night and said that, in light of Hicks’ diagnosis, he and the first lady would begin quarantining as they awaited their results. “Whether we quarantine or whether we have it, I don’t know,” he told Hannity. “We’ll see what happens. Who knows. I spend a lot of time with Hope. So does the first lady.”
Trump also appeared to suggest that Hicks may have contracted the virus from members of law enforcement or the military, telling Hannity: “When soldiers and law enforcement comes up to her, you know, she wants to treat them great. Not say, ‘Stay away, I can’t get near you.’... They want to hug you and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them. You get close and things happen.”
Right up until Thursday night, Trump was still publicly mocking the use of face masks as a protective measure against COVID-19 despite the consensus of public-health officials, including his own advisers, that they effectively slow the virus. He called out Biden for wearing a mask as recently as this week at the first presidential debate.
The virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans and infected over 7 million. Even after hearing his aide Hope Hicks had contracted the virus on Thursday night, he told an event, “the end of the pandemic is in sight.”