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Timeline: What We Know Of President Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, briefs reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Image credit: Susan Walsh

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Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

President Trump tweeted early Friday morning that he tested positive for the coronavirus. But questions remain about what exactly happened before and after — when the president was first diagnosed, started experiencing symptoms and what treatment he received and when.

On Saturday, for example, White House physician Sean Conley told reporters Trump was “72 hours” into his diagnosis, but later said in a memo later on that he meant to say Day 3. Conley refused to say whether Trump had ever received supplemental oxygen this week, and another doctor said Trump received treatment 48 hours ago — also quickly walked back by the White House.

Here’s what we know about what happened when:

Saturday, Sept. 26

Trump hosted a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to announce his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

At least eight people who attended the ceremony, including the president, have since tested positive for the coronavirus.

Later that night, Trump flew to Pennsylvania for an outdoor rally. Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s closest aides who would also later test positive for the coronavirus, accompanied the president.

Tuesday

Trump attended the presidential debate in Cleveland. Members of the Trump family and other guests of the president did not wear masks in the debate venue, despite being asked to by Cleveland Clinic staff.

Debate moderator Chris Wallace said on Fox on Friday that Trump wasn’t tested before attending the debate because he arrived late. Instead, organizers relied on the honor system, he said.

Wednesday

Trump flew to Minnesota for a fundraiser and an outdoor rally.

Hicks reportedly started to feel unwell and tried to isolate on the Air Force One ride back to Washington.

Conley’s initial reference to 72 hours since the diagnosis would mean that Trump was diagnosed midday on Wednesday.

The White House later walked Conley’s reference back, saying it had not been 72 hours since the president was diagnosed, saying Conley meant to say it was Day 3 since the diagnosis.

Thursday

Hicks reportedly received a positive coronavirus test on Thursday. She had also traveled with the president on Tuesday and Wednesday.

That afternoon, Trump flew to New Jersey for an indoor fundraiser at which few people wore masks.

At Saturday’s press conference, Dr. Brian Garibaldi said the president began an experimental antibody therapy “about 48 hours ago.” That would place the beginning of that treatment at midday on Thursday, possibly before Trump flew to New Jersey.

The White House has also walked that time reference back, saying Regeneron was administered late Thursday.

That night, Bloomberg News reported that Hicks had been confirmed positive for the coronavirus. In a phone interview on Fox News shortly later that night, Trump said he and first lady Melania Trump had been tested and were awaiting the results.

Doctors have said Trump had a fever “Thursday into Friday,” but didn’t say how high it was.

Friday

Shortly after 1 a.m., Trump tweeted that he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Friday morning, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, told reporters outside the White House that Trump had “mild symptoms.”

That morning, Melania Trump tweeted that she had mild symptoms, but overall was feeling good.

In an interview on Fox News, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had announced his own coronavirus test result within an hour of receiving it.

That afternoon, around 4 ET, the White House announced that the president had received a dose of Regeneron, the experimental drug cocktail that has shown promising results improving coronavirus symptoms. Conley wrote that Trump was “fatigued but in good spirits.”

After 6 p.m., Trump left the White House via helicopter for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The president tweeted a video of himself recorded earlier in the White House thanking supporters for their well wishes. He gave a thumbs-up to reporters as he walked to Marine One.

Throughout the day, additional people who had been in the president’s orbit, including two members of the U.S. Senate, disclosed positive test results.

Just before midnight, the president’s physician released a letter saying Trump had started his first dose of remdesivir therapy.

Doctors later said Trump had a fever Friday morning but not the rest of the day.

Saturday

Conley and doctors at Walter Reed briefed the press Saturday morning. Conley said that he was “extremely happy” with the progress being made and that Trump’s fatigue and mild cough were improving. He said Trump had been fever free for 24 hours.

Conley would not directly answer whether Trump had received any oxygen during the course of the illness but said that he had not received any on Saturday and was walking around. He also said Trump did not receive supplemental oxygen on Thursday or on Friday once he was at Walter Reed.

However, White House official then took a less rosy tone, telling pool 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. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

The Associated Press identified that information as coming from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows

Then, the White House walked back the timeline given by Conley and other doctors at the press conference, saying Trump was diagnosed and began receiving treatment Thursday night.

Trump fired off a tweet not too long after, saying he was “feeling well.”

The White House said Friday that Trump would be at Walter Reed for a “few days.” On Saturday, doctors said that they were evaluating his condition each day and that if he needs the full five-day course of remdesivir, he would stay at Walter Reed to receive it.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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