Trump’s doctor says the president ‘is no longer considered a transmission risk,’ though doesn’t say whether he tested negative
- President Donald Trump’s doctor said in a statement on Saturday that the president is no longer contagious for the coronavirus.
- The White House physician, Sean Conley, notably did not state whether the president had tested negative for the virus.
- Conley said Trump „is no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” and that „the assortment of advanced diagnostic tests obtained reveal there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
White House physician Sean Conley said in a statement Saturday evening that President Donald Trump „is no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” though notably did not state whether the president has tested negative for the coronavirus.
Instead, Conley merely said that „the assortment of advanced diagnostic tests obtained reveal there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus.”
Conley also said Trump was „fever-free for well over 24 hours,” though Trump left the Walter Reed hospital five days earlier on October 5 — leaving open the possibility that Trump had experienced a fever in the days since he left the hospital and returned to the White House. No fever had been disclosed to the public in recent days.
Conley and the rest of Trump’s medical team have fielded criticism in recent weeks over their statements regarding Trump’s symptoms and condition, which have often omitted or distorted information.
In a press conference last weekend, for instance, Conley repeatedly dodged reporters’ questions over whether the president had required supplemental oxygen.
Though Conley did not directly answer the questions, reporters later learned that Trump had been placed on supplemental oxygen at the White House before he was taken to hospital.
Conley’s statement on Saturday came just hours after Trump made his first public appearance on a White House balcony, speaking to hundreds of supporters who had gathered on the South Lawn.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House doctor said that President Donald Trump was no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say explicitly whether Trump had tested negative for it. The diagnosis came as the president prepared to resume campaign rallies and other activities.
In a memo released Saturday night by the White House, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley said Trump met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for safely discontinuing isolation and that by “currently recognized standards” he was no longer considered a transmission risk.
The memo did not declare Trump had tested negative for the virus. But sensitive lab tests — like the PCR test cited in the doctor’s statements — detect virus in swab samples taken from the nose and throat. Dr. William Morice, who oversees laboratories at the Mayo Clinic, said earlier this week that using the PCR tests, the president’s medical team could hypothetically measure and track the amount of virus in samples over time and watch the viral load go down.
Some medical experts had been skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early in the course of his illness. Just 10 days since an initial diagnosis of infection, there was no way to know for certain that someone was no longer contagious, they said.
Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist and department chairman at the Yale School of Public Health, said Saturday night that the White House appeared to be following CDC guidelines for when it is appropriate to end isolation after mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
But Ko cautioned that those who have had severe cases of the diseases should isolate for 20 days. He noted that Trump was treated with the steroid dexamethasone, which is normally reserved for patients with severe COVID.
Ko added that White House had issued “convoluted” statements about Trump’s health that left many questions unanswered, including whether the president ever had pneumonia.
CDC guidelines note that most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others. Ko said people who have had COVID-19 can continue to test positive for weeks or longer after they are no longer infectious.
The memo stated that Trump had reached day 10 from the onset of symptoms, had been free of fever for well over 24 hours, and that all symptoms had improved.
Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University, said the tight time frame laid out by the White House made it appear that “they’re really just pushing to get him out of isolation” and back to campaigning.
The memo followed Trump’s first public appearance since returning to the White House after being treated for the coronavirus at a military hospital. Hundreds of people gathered Saturday afternoon on the South Lawn for a Trump address on his support for law enforcement from a White House balcony.
Trump took off a mask moments after he emerged on the balcony to address the crowd on the lawn below, his first step back onto the public stage with just more than three weeks to go until Election Day. He flouted, once more, the safety recommendations of his own government just days after acknowledging that he was on the brink of “bad things” from the virus and claiming that his bout with the illness brought him a better understanding of it.
His return was a brief one. With bandages visible on his hands, likely from an intravenous injection, Trump spoke for 18 minutes, far less than his normal hour-plus rallies. He appeared healthy, if perhaps a little hoarse, as he delivered what was, for all intents and purposes, a short version of his campaign speech despite the executive mansion setting.
Though the gathering was billed as an official event, Trump offered no policy proposals and instead delivered the usual attacks on Democrat Joe Biden while praising law enforcement to supporters, most of whom wore masks while few adhered to social distancing guidelines.
“I’m feeling great,” said Trump, who said he was thankful for their good wishes and prayers as he recovered. He then declared that the pandemic, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans, was “disappearing” even though he is still recovering from the virus.
In either an act of defiance or simply tempting fate, officials organized the crowd just steps from the Rose Garden, where exactly two weeks ago the president held another large gathering to formally announce his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. That event is now being eyed as a possible COVID-19 superspreader as more than two dozen people in attendance have contracted the virus.
Trump had hoped to hold campaign rallies this weekend but settled for the White House event. But even as his health remained unclear, he planned to ramp up his travel with a rally in Florida on Monday, followed by trips to Pennsylvania and Iowa on subsequent days.
Security was stepped up around the White House before the event, which was called a “peaceful protest for law & order” and predominantly attended by Black and Latino supporters. Police and the Secret Service closed surrounding streets to vehicles and shut down Lafayette Square, the park near the White House that has long been a gathering place for public protest.
As questions linger about his health — and Democratic opponent Joe Biden steps up his own campaigning — Trump has more frequently called into radio and TV programs to speak with conservative interviewers, hoping to make up for lost time.
Biden’s campaign said he again tested negative on Saturday for COVID-19. Biden was potentially exposed to the coronavirus during his Sept. 29 debate with Trump, who announced his positive diagnosis barely 48 hours after the debate.
The president had not been seen in public — other than in White House-produced videos — since his return five days ago from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he received experimental treatments for the coronavirus.
On Saturday, all attendees were required to bring masks or were provided with them, and were given temperature checks and asked to fill out a brief questionnaire. Some in the crowd removed their mask to listen to Trump.
Trump’s Monday event in Sanford, Florida, what he’s described as a “BIG RALLY,” was originally scheduled to be held on Oct. 2, the day after he tested positive. Ahead of his Saturday event, Trump used Twitter to share news articles about problems with mail-in ballots in New Jersey, Ohio and Texas. Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that universal mail-in voting is beset by widespread fraud.
Trump’s return to public activity came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, cautioned the White House again to avoid large-scale gatherings of people without masks.
Fauci said of the Barrett event in an interview with The Associated Press, “I was not surprised to see a superspreader event given the circumstances.” That means “crowded, congregate setting, not wearing masks. It is not surprising to see an outbreak,” he said.
District of Columbia virus restrictions prohibit outdoor gatherings larger than 50 people, although that rule has not been strictly enforced. Masks are mandatory outdoors for most people, but the regulations don’t apply on federal land, and the Trump White House has openly flouted them for months.
Confined to the White House as he recovers, Trump spent sizable chunks of the past few days making the rounds of friendly conservative media, calling in to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night and spending two hours live on air with radio host Rush Limbaugh on Friday in what his campaign billed as a “radio rally.”
Holding court on his reelection battle, his fight against the coronavirus and revived negotiations with Democrats to pass an economic stimulus bill, Trump made a direct appeal to his base of loyal supporters, whom he needs to turn out to the polls in droves.
In a Friday night interview on Fox’s Tucker Carlson’s show, Trump was asked if he has been retested for COVID-19. “I have been retested, and I haven’t even found out numbers or anything yet. But I’ve been retested, and I know I’m at either the bottom of the scale or free,” he said.
White House officials, however, have declined to answer when Trump last tested negative for the virus before his diagnosis or release detailed information about lung scans taken while Trump was hospitalized.
While reports of reinfection in COVID-19 victims are rare, the CDC recommends that even people who recover from the disease continue to wear masks, stay distanced and follow other precautions. It was unclear if Trump, who has refused mask wearing in most settings, would abide by that guidance as he resumes his campaign.
President Donald Trump’s physician said he is “no longer considered a transmission risk to others” on day 10 since the start of the president’s bout with COVID-19.
In a memo released by the White House on Saturday night, Dr. Sean Conley added on to his previous assessment that Trump met the criteria to stop isolation. The memo did not address whether Trump has tested negative for the virus.
„Now at day 10 from symptom onset, fever-free for well over 24 hours and all symptoms improved, the assortment of advanced diagnostic tests obtained reveal there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus,” Conley said.
The memo comes after Trump held his first public event at the White House Saturday since he tested positive Oct. 1.
On Thursday, Conley said that Trump would be cleared to be around others again beginning Saturday and that he had completed his course of therapy for COVID-19 „as prescribed by his team of physicians.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say someone who tested positive should remain isolated until 10 days have passed since the onset of their symptoms.
„Moving forward, I will continue to monitor him clinically as he returns to an active schedule,” Conley said in the Saturday memo.
Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center over the previous weekend after his diagnosis, where he received supplemental oxygen and had a „high fever” before returning to the White House last Monday.
The president is scheduled to resume campaign rallies starting Monday, when he will be in Sanford, Fla. He also has events planned for Johnstown, Penn., on Tuesday and in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday.
2020 election live updates: Biden hopes Trump makes sure he’s COVID ‘clear’ before events; Christie out of hospital
Was Trump ever on oxygen?: Health, security experts say America needs ‘total honesty’ on president’s condition
„I’m feeling great, I don’t know about you,” Trump said in his Saturday address to hundreds of supporters at the White House.
The event occurred a day after Trump said he was „medication-free” in an interview with Fox News. He added that he didn’t know the results of his most recent coronavirus test, which he said was administered earlier on Friday.
White House officials and Trump’s physician have refused to say when he last tested negative before his positive test last week.
Since Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, an array of White House officials and top Republicans have also tested positive, several who were in attendance at a Sept. 26 Rose Garden announcement of Trump’s Supreme Court pick. That gathering has since been deemed a „superspreader” event.
A USA TODAY investigation found that individuals who tested positive in the president’s orbit may have exposed thousands of people across the country. At least 6,000 people attended meetings, rallies and other gatherings with people tied to the outbreak in the White House in the week leading up to the Rose Garden event.
The Minnesota Health Department on Friday also said that nine people who reported attending president’s rally in Bemidji, Minn. last month are now positive for the virus, with one in intensive care.
Contributing: Rebecca Morin, Courtney Subramanian
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump not a risk for transmitting COVID-19, Dr. Conley says
- The UK, France, and Germany this week pledged to sanction Russia over the August 20 poisoning of Alexei Navalny, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.
- The sanctions will target „individuals deemed responsible” and „an entity involved in the Novichok program,” France and Germany said.
- It will likely have no effect in Moscow.
- Sanctions were imposed following the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal in England, and the 2019 killing of a Chechen rebel leader in Germany. Neither deterred Russia from trying to take out Navalny in Siberia.
- A Russia expert told Business Insider there was „a very weak response” to those sanctions, adding: „We’ve long since gone past the point where Putin cares about what the West thinks about him.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Three of Europe’s largest powers pledged in no uncertain terms earlier this week to sanction Russia over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Navalny, the top critic of President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent on August 20. He spent 48 hours in a Russian hospital before he was permitted to fly to Berlin for specialist care, where he remained until September 22.
In an October 1 interview with Der Spiegel Navalny directly accused Putin of approving the hit.
Russia has denied carrying out the attack, but Europe isn’t willing to take the Kremlin’s word for it — and is hoping that imposing sanctions on an individual level will deter Russia from trying again.
But the measures will fall on deaf ears in the Kremlin, as similar measures have numerous times before.
„We’ve long since gone past the point where Putin cares about what the West thinks about him. He knows that we’re not friends,” Mark Galeotti, a Russia scholar and senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.
„This to me sounds like a move that’s more about demonstrating political will than actually having any real impact: something has to be done and here’s something we can do,” Galeotti said.
The individuals sanctioned by France, Germany, and the UK are „basically going to be people within the security apparatus who are already not looking to buy themselves an agreeable little gîte in France, or keep money in a bank account somewhere in Munich.”
„It’s not going to influence Putin at all. If corrupt individuals lose out on some assets well, that’s their lookout. It’s not really going to change the opinions of people in the security apparatus, as they’re in too deep,” he said.
Past sanctions have done little to nothing
In the wake of the March 4, 2018, poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, dozens of Russian diplomats were expelled from the US, Germany, France and the UK, with Russia responding in kind.
That appeared to have little to no effect on Russia’s behavior. The country has continued its attempts to silence its critics, and shrugged off accusations as hearsay.
On August 23, 2019, the Chechen rebel leader Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, who fought Russia in the 1990s, was shot dead in broad daylight in Berlin.
And yet, 14 months after the hit on Khangoshvili, Russia is once again facing sanctions following its most recent, high-profile assassination target: Navalny.
A Central European intelligence official, who works in opposition to Russian intelligence services, previously told Business Insider that Russian attacks on Navalny would continue upon his return, and that Putin will not care about sanctions.
Navalny is currently in Berlin, where he received treatment, but has said that he will return to Russia.
‘A symbolic, rather than a significant response’
Galeotti, the Russian expert, said that while there was ultimately little change inside Russia following the reaction to the Skripal hit, it did shock officials in the country.
„The thing with the Skripal case was that it was a massive multinational expulsion of Russian spies and it was one that caught the Russians by surprise,” he told Business Insider.
„They had no idea this big wave of additional expulsions was coming. That was genuinely shocking to the Russians. It had a genuine impact on their intelligence activities.”
But ultimately, Galeotti said, „not only was there a very weak reponse to [the sanctions] but now, with Navalny again, it’s a symbolic rather than a significant response.”
„I suspect that the Kremlin will complain, it will kick up a fuss, but in practice, I think it will be fine. ”
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