Ex-President Donald Trump had worse symptoms of Covid-19 than the White House publicly acknowledged last fall, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Trump’s blood oxygen level was extremely low ― in the 80s ― according to four unnamed people who spoke with the Times. A blood oxygen level lower than 95% is considered worrisome and below 90% warrants a trip to the emergency room.
He also displayed a lung condition associated with the virus, called lung infiltrates, that meant his lungs were inflamed and infected with abnormal substances, the Times said.
Trump’s condition deteriorated to the point where officials reportedly believed he would need to be put on a ventilator, despite his attempts to publicly downplay his illness as much as possible.
At the time, it was believed that Trump’s condition had been serious. Doctors said Trump had been experiencing difficulty breathing and had a slight fever, but the White House largely refused to share specific updates about the state of his health.
After then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows attempted to hint at the severity of Trump’s condition, reports emerged that Meadows had enraged the president.
Trump announced that he and his wife, Melania Trump, had contracted the coronavirus in early October, writing on Twitter that the pair would “get through this TOGETHER!” Melania Trump said in a tweet sent in the early morning hours of October 2 that both she and her husband were “feeling good.”
Trump was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center that evening.
“President Trump remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” the White House said in a statement released at the time. “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. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady.”
At age 74, he represented a demographic at risk of the virus’s most severe symptoms.
The Trump administration faced searing criticism for its handling of the president’s diagnosis. Trump’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, declined to say in a press conference with reporters outside Walter Reed on October 3 that the president had been put on oxygen as part of his treatment, but later changed course, saying that he did not initially want to cause “alarm.” In fact, the president had been given oxygen twice before he was taken to Walter Reed.
On October 4, Trump endangered the lives of his Secret Service detail by taking a ride around the hospital in a black SUV while symptomatic in an attempt to project strength.
The former president was discharged from the hospital October 5, three days after he was admitted, having received state-of-the-art treatment that included the steroid dexamethasone and monoclonal antibodies.
Shortly thereafter, he continued to undermine public health messaging by declaring that Americans should not let the virus “dominate” their lives.