WASHINGTON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump was “doing very well” and is fever-free at a military hospital on Saturday (Oct 3) a day after he tested positive for Covid-19, the president’s doctor said.
But a person familiar with the situation said some of Mr Trump’s vital signs over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.
In a video appearance on Twitter later on Saturday evening, Mr Trump said he’s starting to feel better and that he expects to “be back soon”.
“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well. I feel much better now,” he said from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre near Washington . “I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started.”
Mr Trump, 74, was moved to hospital on Friday just hours after his diagnosis, an extraordinary development that upended the US presidential race a month before the Nov 3 election.
White House doctor Sean P. Conley told reporters outside the hospital on Saturday that Mr Trump has been fever-free for the last 24 hours and is being closely monitored for complications. The President had not experienced difficulty breathing, and had not been given supplemental oxygen.
“The team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” Dr Conley said, adding that the president was in exceptionally good spirits.
Dr Conley, however, could not give a timetable for the president's release from hospital.
One of the doctors at the briefing said Mr Trump told him: "I feel like I could walk out of here today."
The President asked about the drug hydroxychloroquine, but was not taking it at the moment, the doctors said. Mr Trump had earlier in the pandemic touted the drug as a potential treatment for Covid-19.
The White House has said Mr Trump will work in a special suite at the hospital for the next few days as a precautionary measure. He had no public events scheduled on Saturday.
The diagnosis was the latest setback for the Republican president, who is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls ahead of the presidential election.
Mr Trump has downplayed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic from the outset, even as the disease has killed more than 200,000 Americans and hammered the US economy.
Dr Conley said Mr Trump had received a first dose of a five-day course of Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral drug sold by Gilead Sciences Inc that has been shown to shorten hospital stays.
He is also taking an experimental treatment, Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, one of several experimental Covid-19 drugs known as monoclonal antibodies, as well as zinc, Vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and aspirin, Dr Conley has said.
Mr Trump announced on Twitter early on Friday that he and the first lady, Mrs Melania Trump, had contracted the virus.
He is at high risk because of his age and weight. He has remained in apparent good health during his time in office but is not known to exercise regularly or to follow a healthy diet.
A number of other prominent Republicans also tested positive on Friday, including former White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and Republican Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis.
On Saturday, a third senator was diagnosed with Covid-19: Republican Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie also said he tested positive.
Vice-President Mike Pence, who would take over presidential duties if Mr Trump became severely ill, tested negative, a spokesman said. The former Indiana governor, 61, is working from his own residence about 5km from the White House.
Pence will continue stumping for the President and Trump’s campaign said on Saturday that Pence will host an Oct 8 event in Peoria, Arizona.
Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, also tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday and will work from home, according to a senior campaign official.
Biden pulled ads attacking Trump off the air, but otherwise continued his campaign, travelling to Michigan on Friday after testing negative for the virus.
In a Twitter post on Saturday, Biden urged Americans to don masks.
“Don’t just do it for yourself. Do it for the people you love.”
Pence’s Oct 7 debate with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris will go forward as planned, organisers said.
The virus could complicate Trump’s push to install conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court.
Lee and Tillis are both members of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to begin hearings on Barrett’s nomination on Oct 12.
On Saturday, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said all Senate floor activity would be rescheduled until after Oct 19, but committee work, including Barrett’s confirmation hearing, would continue.