President Trump briefly departed Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday evening, riding in an SUV with rolled-up windows to wave to supporters gathered outside. Confusion continued Sunday about the severity of Mr. Trump's condition, as his physician revealed the president had been given a dose of a powerful steroid that the World Health Organization recommends for patients who are "critically ill" with COVID-19.
Dr. Sean Conley, the White House doctor, said Mr. Trump had been given dexamethasone Saturday and had experienced two drops in his oxygen levels since the onset of his illness. Dexamethasone to improve outcomes for patients with severe cases of COVID-19, including those who require supplemental oxygen, but isn't recommended for use in patients with milder cases.
Conley said the president's move to Walter Reed on Friday was prompted by Conley's concern about the "rapid progression" of his symptoms from Thursday night into Friday morning, with a high fever and low oxygen levels. Conley said Mr. Trump was given supplemental oxygen on Friday before he was brought to the medical center.
In a video he tweeted before his brief ride-around, Mr. Trump said he's now "learned a lot about COVID."
"I learned it by really going to school," Mr. Trump said. "This is the real school, this isn't the 'let's read the books school,' and I get it, I understand it. And it's a very interesting thing and I'm going to be letting you know about it."
"This is insanity," one expert says of Trump ride
Infected and contagious, President Trump briefly ventured outside the hospital in a motorcade Sunday to salute cheering supporters, a move that disregarded precautions meant to contain COVID-19.
With a month until Election Day, Mr. Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised backers who'd gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, driving by in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear.
The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fueled confusion about Mr. Trump's health.
In a short video released by the White House Sunday, the president insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions moments later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, suggested otherwise.
"This is insanity," Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed who is a critic of Mr. Trump and his handling of the pandemic. "Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die."
"For political theater," the doctor added. "Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater."
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White House has not asked CDC for help in contact tracing
A federal official confirms to CBS News that the White House has not requested assistance from the CDC with contact tracing after the positive diagnoses of President Trump, the first lady, several White House officials and attendees of the September 26 Rose Garden ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The CDC has "a team that's on standby," but as of right now they have not been requested.
On Saturday, Trump's doctor told reporters the "White House Medical Unit, in conjunction with the CDC and local state health departments, are conducting all contact tracing per CDC guidelines."
But later, White House communications director Alyssa Farah said the White House Medical Unit is conducting contact tracing after Saturday's event. "We have an inhouse White House epidemiologist, part of the White House Medical Unit, and then we're following CDC guidelines on how to do it," she said.
The CDC is however "providing technical support" to state and local officials for contact tracing involving Mr. Trump's fundraisers in Minnesota and New Jersey and the presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Not all guests at Trump fundraiser were tested beforehand
Not all of the 206 guests who attended a fundraiser with President Trump at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, were tested for the coronavirus prior to the event, a RNC official tells CBS News. Only those participating in the roundtable or taking photos with the president – roughly 60 individuals paying more than $35,000 – received a rapid test prior to the event.
Those who only attended the outdoor event received only a temperature check.
The official stressed the guests who were not tested did not come into close proximity with the president, who addressed the reception outside from a platform and at a distance. The president did not mingle with the crowd, according to the official.
White House says drive-by was "cleared by the medical team as safe"
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Sunday night that Mr. Trump's ride in a motorcade to wave to supporters outside Walter Reed was "cleared by the medical team as safe."
"Appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the president and all those supporting it, including PPE," Deere said.
Mr. Trump's brief trip has been criticized by some medical professionals online.
Biden tests negative for COVID-19, campaign says
Democratic presidential nominee Joe BIden has again tested negative for COVID-19, the campaign said Sunday. The campaign said Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 on Sunday and the virus was not detected.
The campaign did not disclose if he was tested once or twice, like he was before he went to Michigan on Friday. It also did not say the last time he received a negative test result. The Biden campaign said on Saturday that it will release all of Biden's COVID-19 tests going forward.
White House gives New Jersey county names of 206 people who were at Trump fundraiser
The White House and Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey, provided the names of 206 people to state and local health departments in New Jersey. These people attended a fundraiser with Mr. Trump on Thursday, hours before he announced he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The New Jersey Department of Health said it had reached out to the individuals "to make them aware of possible exposure, and recommend that they self-monitor for symptoms and quarantine if they were in close contact with the president and his staff," said Somerset County public information officer Nathan Rudy.
The Somerset County health department is interviewing staff members of the Trump National Golf Club to determine the level of contact they had with Mr. Trump and the guests. The majority of the staff members live in Somerset County, Rudy said.
— Nicole Sganga, Sarah Ewall-Wice and Eleanor Watson
Walter Reed attending physician tweets "this is insanity" after Trump drive-by
Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University and an attending physician at Walter Reed Medical Center, tweeted that Mr. Trump's brief departure from the hospital was "theater" and called it "insanity."
"Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential "drive-by" just now has to be quarantined for 14 days," Phillips tweeted. "They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity."
Phillips followed up with a second tweet saying his "thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play."
"That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack," Phillips wrote. "The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding."
Mr. Trump said in a video posted before his departure that it was meant to be a "surprise." A travel "photo lid" had been issued earlier in the day, meaning that there was no warning to the press pool that this was going to happen.
Trump drives by supporters outside Walter Reed
President Trump briefly left Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday evening to wave to his supporters. The motorcade left around 5:20 p.m. and looped around for a few minutes before he returned.
In a video Mr. Trump posted to Twitter shortly before departing, he said he wanted to "pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots we have out on the street. They've been out there a long time, they have Trump flags and they love our country."
Mr. Trump also said he "learned a lot about COVID" while in the hospital.
"I learned it by really going to school," he said. "This is the real school, this isn't the 'let's read the books school,' and I get it, I understand it. And it's a very interesting thing and I'm going to be letting you know about it."
Trump treated with "very potent steroid" dexamethasone
President Trump's doctors said Sunday that he is taking dexamethasone, which CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus described as a "very potent steroid that could have brain effects." The president was given the drug on Saturday after a second drop in oxygen levels.
Trump thanks backers outside of Walter Reed
Mr. Trump delivered a message of thanks to his supporters who have traveled to Walter Reed, where he continues recovering.
"I really appreciate all of the fans and supporters outside of the hospital. The fact is, they really love our Country and are seeing how we are MAKING IT GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!" Mr. Trump tweeted.
Lara Trump to host "call to prayer" campaign event for Trump
President Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who is also a senior campaign adviser, will be hosting a "call to prayer" campaign event for the president and first lady.
The event will feature Pastor Paula White-Cain, Cissie Graham-Lynch, Pastor Jentezen Franklin, Pastor Romiro Pena and Bishop Harry Jackson, the campaign said.
Eric and Lara Trump said Friday they had tested negative for COVID-19
Barr tests negative for COVID-19
Attorney General William Barr has tested negative for COVID-19, Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec said Sunday. Barr has had two rapid tests and one PCR test since Friday morning, and they were all negative, Kupec said.
Out of an abundance of caution, he went to the Justice Department for only one meeting on Friday, stayed home this weekend except to get tested and will stay home Monday.
Barr was at the White House Rose Garden ceremony on September 26 with several other administration officials and prominent Republicans who have contracted COVID-19, including Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, and Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis.
White House physician: Evasions on Trump receiving oxygen meant to "reflect upbeat attitude" of medical team
Conley was pressed by reporters during the briefing at Walter Reed as to why he refused to disclose Saturday that Mr. Trump was administered supplemental oxygen as he continues to be treated for COVID-19, despite being asked about it multiple times.
"I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had," Conley explained. "Didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction and in doing so, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true."
Conley added that Mr. Trump is "doing really well."
He acknowledged Sunday that Mr. Trump was, indeed, administered oxygen at the White House on Friday morning for roughly an hour.
Gottlieb: Those around Trump earlier in the week "not in the clear"
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who served as the head of the Food and Drug Administration, warned Sunday that those who were around Mr. Trump in the early to mid part of last week, including Vice President Mike Pence, are "not in the clear" from contracting COVID-19.
In an interview with "Face the Nation," Gottlieb said those who were with Mr. Trump on Tuesday or Wednesday, and therefore exposed to the virus, could still test positive themselves. The president revealed early Friday he and first lady Melania Trump were diagnosed with the coronavirus. The president attended the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday and he traveled to Minnesota for a fundraiser and campaign rally on Wednesday.
Pence again tested negative Sunday, according to a senior administration official.
"Anyone who is with any of the people who are currently infected earlier this week, they were probably at their peak contagion at that point," Gottlieb said. "So typically, you're most contagious about 24 hours before the onset of symptoms. So the debate prep on Tuesday is a source of potential third generation spread. The meeting of the Senate GOP on Wednesday is a source of third generation spread."
Read more here.
Pence tests negative for COVID-19
Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence again tested negative for COVID-19 on Sunday, a senior administration official said. The vice president is scheduled to debate Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday.
Trump treated with "very potent steroid" dexamethasone
The president received a dose of the steroid dexamethasone on Saturday after his oxygen levels dropped, Conley said Sunday. Dexamethasone is a "very potent" drug that can carry serious side effects, CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said after the briefing.
"Dexamethasone is a very potent steroid that can have brain effects. There can be a manic behavior associated with dexamethasone, so certainly important that we understand that," Agus said. "Dexamethasone is a very strong medicine. When used early in this infection, it can actually make it worse by blocking immune function. When used late, it can treat significant pulmonary inflammation, which I assume he has."
Conley said the president had experienced "two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation" since he was infected, and confirmed the use of supplemental oxygen on Friday, before the president was transferred to Walter Reed.
Results of a clinical trial released in June showed dexamethasone was effective in treating patients who needed supplemental oxygen or were placed on ventilators, with little benefit for those with less severe cases. Agus said imaging of the president's chest would reveal the extent of the damage from the virus.
"The doctor had mentioned they had imagings of the chest, and that showed inflammation, I assume. He said it was the 'usual expected findings,' which I assume — he doesn't give us any quantification. Is it 10%, 20%, 50% of the lungs that are involved? We don't know," Agus said. "But certainly now, he is on the strongest medicines shown to have benefit, which are monoclonal antibodies, remdesivir and dexamethasone."
Trump's doctors say he could return to White House as early as tomorrow
During a briefing at Walter Reed, Dr. Brian Garibaldi of Johns Hopkins University told reporters Mr. Trump could be discharged from the hospital as early as Monday.
"If he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House where he can continue his treatment course," said Garibaldi, who is consulting the president's medical team.
Conley, the White House physician, added that if "everything continues to go well," his doctors will begin discharge plans.
Conley also confirmed to reporters that the president had two episodes of falling oxygen saturation levels and received supplemental oxygen Friday at the White House. While Mr. Trump was "fairly adamant" he did not need the supplemental oxygen, Conley said it was administered for roughly an hour.
In response to the two episodes of drops in his oxygen saturation, doctors gave Mr. Trump dexamethasone, a steroid. His first dose was administered Saturday, Garibaldi said.
The first drop in Mr. Trump's oxygen saturation occurred Friday and the second occurred Saturday, Conley said.
Pressed by reporters as to why he did not initially disclose Mr. Trump received supplemental oxygen at the White House, Conley said he wanted "to reflect the upbeat attitude of the team."
National security adviser rules out transfer of power
White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Sunday that a transfer of power from Mr. Trump to Vice President Mike Pence is not "on the table right now" as Mr. Trump continues to receive treatment for COVID-19 at Walter Reed Medical Center.
"That's not something that's on the table at this point," O'Brien said on "Face the Nation" when asked whether there have been discussions about handing the powers of the presidency to the vice president. "We have a great vice president, we have a government that is steady at the tiller."
O'Brien said Mr. Trump will receive a national security briefing remotely Sunday afternoon and stressed that the government and the president are "doing well."
"So far the president is in great shape. He's firmly in command of the government of the country," he said.
Read more here.
Trump medical team to hold briefing at 11:30
Conley, the president's physician, and the rest of his medical team are expected to brief reporters at Walter Reed at 11:30 a.m. to provide an update on the president's condition. Watch live on CBSN and in the player above.
Trump's personal aide tests positive for virus
White House staffer Nick Luna, who serves as the president's personal attendant or "body man," has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to two sources directly familiar with the matter. Luna tested positive on Saturday.
Luna holds the title of director of Oval Office operations, and serves as the personal aide who travels most frequently with the president. He often is the last person on the podium before the president speaks and is always in close proximity to the president when he is traveling. Bloomberg News first reported his positive diagnosis.
Luna traveled with Mr. Trump to Cleveland for the first presidential debate on Tuesday and to his rally in Minnesota the next day. He was prevented, however, from going with the president to a New Jersey fundraiser on Thursday because of his close contact with Hope Hicks, the top White House aide who first tested positive for the virus.
Luna was also at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden last Saturday for Amy Coney Barrett, the president's nominee for the Supreme Court, according to sources who were in attendance. Luna was seen moving around near the president's podium and was not sitting in the audience.
Last month, Luna married Cassidy Dumbauld, a long time adviser to White House senior adviser and the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. She tested negative for the virus, sources said.
Asked about Luna's condition, one person familiar with the matter said he is "doing fine."
Trump's prognosis and a nation's need to know
Balancing the president's privacy with the importance of sharing details about his COVID-19 diagnosis is not easy. On "CBS Sunday Morning," correspondent Lee Cowan talks with Dr. Albert Ko and with CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook about the need for transparency in promoting public health.
Trump's physician says he is "not yet out of the woods"
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany late Saturday released another memo from Dr. Sean Conley, President Trump's physician. Conley said Mr. Trump "continues to do well, having made substantial progress since his diagnosis," but said Mr. Trump is "not yet out of the woods."
Conley said Mr. Trump completed his second dose of remdesivir "without complication." Mr. Trump remains fever-free and is off supplemental oxygen, with saturation level between 96-98%.
"He spent most of the afternoon conducting business, and has been up and moving around the medical facility without difficulty," Conley said.
Conley said that while Mr. Trump is "not yet out of the woods," the team is "cautiously optimistic."
Mr. Trump will continue to take remdesivir on Sunday and will be closely monitored.
Dan Scavino says he has tested negative
White House deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino said Saturday night that he has tested negative for the coronavirus. Scavino says he will take another test tomorrow morning and if it comes back negative he will go to Walter Reed Medical Center to work with President Trump and chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Meadows says he and Trump's doctor were "very concerned" about his health on Friday
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Fox News late Saturday that Mr. Trump is doing "very well" and Meadows is "very optimistic."
Meadows said Mr. Trump does not have a fever and the president is "doing really well with his oxygen saturation levels."
"Yesterday morning, we were real concerned with that — he had a fever and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly," Meadows said. "And yet, in typical style, this president was up and walking around, and even as the experts from the medical facilities, not only at Walter Reed but also Johns Hopkins, got there, they looked at his situation, recommended that out of an abundance of caution, he come here to Walter Reed. But he's been — he's been an outstanding patient, with one exception — he continues to work and continues to believe that he's got to get a number of things done for the American people."
Meadows said transferring power to Vice President Mike Pence was "never a consideration."