The White House has resembled a lying madhouse lately—or at least, more than usual—so it’s important to take what it says with a grain of salt. However, there was some interesting news coming from its corridors on Saturday: President Donald Trump is apparently no longer contagious for covid-19, the disease he contracted after making questionable decisions during a global pandemic.
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said in a memo released Saturday night that the president was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others” and that he had met criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for discontinuing isolation (not that he paid attention isolation orders, anyway.)
“This evening I am happy to report that in addition to the president meeting C.D.C. criteria for the safe discontinuation of isolation, this morning’s Covid P.C.R. sample demonstrates, by currently recognized standards, he is no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” Dr. Conley wrote in the memo, per the New York Times. “Now at day 10 from symptoms 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. In addition, sequential testing throughout his illness has demonstrated decreasing viral loads that correlate with increasing cycle threshold times, as well as decreasing and now undetectable subgenomic mRNA.”
Nonetheless, Conley’s assertion about the CDC criteria raises a big question mark, mainly because Trump informed the public that he had tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, on Oct. 2.
The CDC states that for most people with covid-19, isolation and precautions can be discontinued 10 days after they develop symptoms and have not presented a fever for at least 24 hours.
Conley issued the memo on Saturday, or eight days after the president announced he had tested positive for covid-19. If Conley is counting the president’s first day with covid-19 as Oct. 1, which is the date on a White House memo saying he had received confirmation of the president’s diagnosis, that’s still only nine days.
In addition, the CDC states that people with severe covid-19 may need to isolate for up to 20 days. Although the White House has never been fully transparent about how sick Trump is—even having him sign blank pieces of paper from his hospital room to show that he was “working—we do know that the president has been treated with Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapy cocktail, the antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone.
The use of the steroid dexamethasone is particularly eyebrow-raising, given that it is recommended as a treatment for severe cases of covid-19. And if Trump is experiencing a serious bout of covid-19, first of all, what is he doing out of the hospital? And second of all, why is he allowed to be around people?
At the end of the day, the White House could resolve all of the questions we, and the public, have listed above if they just revealed when the president last tested negative for covid-19. Because someone who is supposedly being tested all the time would surely be tested even more now that they’re actually sick, wouldn’t they?
But the White House doesn’t want to say when the president last tested negative, only that he’s no longer contagious. Trump, meanwhile, is crowing that he is now “immune” and that the virus “is disappearing.” Twitter flagged a Trump tweet, in which he claimed he is immune and can’t give and or get the virus, for misinformation on Sunday. It also prevented people from sharing the tweet via link, which is why I can’t link to it.
So yeah, who knows whether the president is still sick or not. On Saturday, he spoke to hundreds of supporters, without a mask, on the South Lawn of the White House. In addition, earlier this week, an in-person presidential debate scheduled for Thursday had to be canceled because of Trump’s positive covid-19 diagnosis and subsequent refusal to participate remotely.
The Trump campaign had claimed there was “no medical reason” the debate couldn’t be held in-person since the president would be “healthy and ready to debate.” The campaign could demonstrate that there is “no medical reason” for this by revealing when and if the president has tested negative, of course.
Trump plans to resume campaign travel on Monday.
As we have unfortunately said so many times this week, what could possibly go wrong?