White House physician Sean Conley says that President Trump was doing "very well" and that the symptoms he had are resolving and improving.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
President Trump's personal physician Dr. Sean Conley briefed the press earlier today. And we're joined now by NPR science correspondent Joe Palca. Joe, thanks very much for being with us.
JOE PALCA, BYLINE: You're welcome.
SIMON: Let me ask you about what Dr. Conley said and what he perhaps didn't say. How did he describe the president's condition?
PALCA: Well, yes, he and a phalanx, I would say, of support members from his team of physicians came out of a podium in front of the Walter Reed National Medical - sorry, National Military...
SIMON: National Military, I think.
PALCA: ...Military Medical Center. And they set a very positive tone. Here's what Dr. Conley said right at the top.
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SEAN CONLEY: At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made. Thursday, he had a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.
PALCA: So, you know, that's good news. And the question is a mild cough and some - and mild symptoms sort of made it seem a little strange about why he was taken to the hospital. But as you probably have heard today, he did use - he did get given an experimental drug that's supposed to reduce the viral infection that he had. It's a monoclonal antibody cocktail. And he also had this drug remdesivir that they wanted to give him, and perhaps that's the explanation for the hospitalization because you typically give remdesivir as an intravenous drug, and it's typically given to patients in the hospital.
SIMON: Joe, you noticed at least a couple of points that seem to be missing from the briefing, though.
PALCA: Yeah. That was just strange. I mean, he gave some numbers from the president's health. He gave blood pressure. He gave the high number, the systolic, but not the diastolic. It was just strange. Why wouldn't you say that? And he also said - you know, he was asked repeatedly - he said the president is not on oxygen, the president is not on oxygen. People said, well, was he ever in the course of this illness ever on oxygen? And the doctor said, well, he's not on oxygen now. And pretty soon, it was clear that there was one gap in the time that the doctor was saying he wasn't on oxygen, which was Friday morning, when, apparently, he was on oxygen. But why he wouldn't just come out and say something like that was a little confusing. And also, the timeline is a little confusing. Let's listen to this clip.
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CONLEY: Just 72 hours into the diagnosis now - the first week of COVID and, in particular, Days 7 to 10, are the most critical in determining the likely course of this illness.
PALCA: Right. So the key question there is the 72 hours. OK, so here we are on Saturday afternoon - or this press conference was a couple of hours ago, but Saturday midday. That would make Friday, Thursday, Wednesday - Wednesday, they were - he would be talking about the president being in the course of the illness. But we didn't hear - we, the public, didn't hear about the president's having a positive test until...
SIMON: I didn't have the screen open. Could you send it to me?
PALCA: ...Thursday night. So it's just a little bit of confusion here. And the doctor wouldn't also address the question of when the president was negative and when he first tested positive. Clearly, he did test positive when the president tweeted that late Thursday night, early Friday morning.
SIMON: I apparently spoke over some of your words, Joe. My apologies.
PALCA: That's OK.
SIMON: After - and now our dog's barking in the background. After the news conference, reporters were given some other information that was somewhat at odds with what they just heard, right?
PALCA: Yeah. I think Ron Elving was just talking with you about this, but I'll quote it again because it just had a different flavor. It comes as a quote from the White House pool. Quote, "comments on background from a source familiar with the president's health - the president's vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We're still not on a clear path to a full recovery." I mean, I think you could say that that's not inconsistent with what Dr. Conley said. He said that we have, you know, to be very careful at this stage of the disease, but it's a little different tone.
SIMON: And what do we know that's being done for the president now and any indication as for how long?
PALCA: Yes. We know he's getting remdesivir. They'll be monitoring, you know, all sorts of the signs. They mentioned doing an ultrasound every day, which sounded a little excessive to some doctors, but they'll be watching him closely. And right now, they said they're just encouraging to drink fluids and eat food and try to get his health better. And they wouldn't speculate on when he'd come out, but they said it would be - they hope it will be within five days.
SIMON: NPR science correspondent Joe Palca, thank you so much for being with us.
PALCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.