- President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 late Thursday and was admitted into the hospital later the next morning; however, on Saturday, his doctors seemed to indicate that they had known Trump was positive for the virus since Wednesday.
- If true, Trump held two events while knowingly positive.
- His doctors walked back that statement on Saturday, saying they misspoke. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has also said that Trump first tested positive following a fundraiser on Thursday.
- Despite this, it has been confirmed that Trump knowingly attended that event after finding out that his senior counselor, Hope Hicks — who he had been exposed to — had tested positive.
Thursday: Trump Diagnosed
President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 late Thursday night. By Monday, he announced that he was set to be discharged from the hospital he had checked into on Friday.
Just after midnight Eastern time on Friday, the president announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive. That announcement came just several hours after confirmation that Trump’s senior counselor, Hope Hicks, had tested positive.
Later into the morning, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Trump had “mild symptoms.” Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had announced his coronavirus test result within an hour of receiving it.
That afternoon, the White House announced that Trump had since received a dose of Regeneron, an experimental drug cocktail that’s shown promising results in improving COVID-19 symptoms.
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support,” Trump said Friday evening. “I’m going to Walter Reed Hospital. I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well, so thank you very much. I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you.”
Saturday: When Did Trump First Learn He Had COVID?
Trump’s doctors held a press conference Saturday morning where they said Trump had experienced a fever Thursday into Friday morning; however, by this point, they said Trump had been fever-free for 24 hours.
“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 course of this illness,” White House physician Sean P. Conley said outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made. Thursday, he had a mild cough with some nasal congestion, fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.”
Additionally, Dr. Brian Garibaldi said Trump received “a special antibody therapy” (AKA, Regeneron) 48 hours before the press conference.
Both of those statements are critically important because, if true, that would shift the timeline from when Trump said he was diagnosed.
Conley said, on Saturday, Trump was “72 hours into the diagnosis,” which would mean that Trump actually tested positive on Wednesday morning. The same is true with Garibaldi’s statement. If Trump received Regeneron 48 hours before this press conference, that would put it somewhere around midday Thursday.
In fact, this timeline would be rather damning for Trump. That’s because on Wednesday night, he held an outdoor rally in Minnesota. On Thursday, he then flew to New Jersey for a fundraiser — which included both indoor and outdoor events.
Notably, on Friday, Meadows himself said that Trump and his team knew Hicks had tested positive and that he had been exposed to her before the event. Despite this, Trump still decided to go to the fundraiser, even though others she had contact with were pulled from the trip.
Thus, many reporters were quick to ask Conley about this discrepancy, and at Saturday’s press conference, they asked him to clarify when Trump first got a positive diagnosis.
Conley largely refused to answer the question directly and would not reveal when Trump’s last negative test was. Instead, he affirmed that he had done “repeated testing” on Trump Thursday afternoon and that late that night, the results confirmed Trump was positive.
Reporters also asked about whether Trump had been put on supplemental oxygen at any point, as had been reported while he was on his way to the hospital. At first, Conley dodged this question, saying Trump wasn’t currently on oxygen. After repeated questions, Conley finally said that Trump had not yet received any oxygen at all.
A few hours after the press conference, the White House walked back the timeline given by Trump’s doctors, saying that Trump was diagnosed on Thursday night. Conley also backed that up in a revised statement, saying he misspoke and meant “Day 3” instead of “72 hours.”
But the conflicting reports don’t stop there. That same day, reporters quoted Meadows as saying, “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.”
Notably, that’s a lot different than the much more rosy picture Trump’s doctors presented.
As far as Trump himself goes, on Saturday, he tweeted that he felt well. In that same tweet, he referred to COVID-19 as a “PLAGUE.”
“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well,” Trump later said in a video tweet recorded at Walter Reed. “I feel much better now.”
“But this is something that’s happened and it’s happened to millions of people all over the world, and I’m fighting for them. Not just in the U.S. I’m fighting for them all over the world. We’re going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it, and we’re going to beat it soundly.”
However, with this video, many have also pointed out that just after the one minute mark — after saying the word “therapeutics” — a moment where Trump appears to cough seems to have been edited out.
Sunday: Conley Admits Trump Was Put on Oxygen
At a subsequent press conference on Sunday, Conley said that Trump’s conditions have continued to improve.
Despite this, he announced that Trump had been placed on dexamethasone, a drug that’s being used to reduce lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients who require supplemental oxygen. That statement again raised red flags, leading reporters to once again ask whether the president has been administered supplemental oxygen.
This time, Conley flat out admitted Trump had received oxygen on Friday for about an hour while still at the White House — even though on Saturday, he had explicitly denied that Trump had been put on oxygen.
“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” Conley said to that point. “In doing so it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is he is doing really well.”
Conley also noted that Trump’s oxygen levels had dipped below normal on Saturday but said he didn’t know if Trump had been put on oxygen for that. On Monday, Conley confirmed that Trump had been given a second round of oxygen.
Sunday: Trump’s Motorcade
Trump again provided another video update on Sunday, where this time, he said: “I also think we’re going to pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots we have out on the street, and they’ve been out there for a long time, and they’ve got Trump flags, and they love our country, so I’m not telling anybody but you, but I’m about to make a little surprise visit.”
Shortly after that, Trump waved to supporters on the street while in a motorcade.
“God bless our president,” one supporter can be heard shouting as Trump’s vehicle drives away. “I will die for him. I will die for that man happily. I will die for him. Anybody wanna mess with him, you mess with me first. He is a hero, that man.
While this motorcade was mostly likely about optics — especially since the elections are now less than a month away — it also involved a fair amount of risk since Trump needed a driver.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere has said that Trump’s trip “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” He also added that precautions like personal protective equipment were taken to protect Trump, White House officials, and secret service agents.
Still, that hasn’t quelled criticism. In fact, James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, condemned the move.
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” he said on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”
Other medical experts have now also offered similar criticisms.
According to the CDC’s own guidelines, transport of COVID-19 patients is supposed to be limited only “to medically essential purposes.”
Sunday: Trump Did Not Disclose First Positive
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Trump had first received a positive result early Thursday evening; however, after receiving this first test result, he said on Fox News that he was still awaiting his results.
He only later disclosed his diagnosis after a second, more accurate test result came back positive, which was announced in his original tweet early Friday morning.
Reportedly, Trump at one point even told an advisor not to disclose their own positive test result.
Following this news, reporters pressed McEnany to confirm on Sunday whether Trump had been tested before last Tuesday’s debate or before the New Jersey fundraiser on Thursday. To those questions, McEany would not say, though she did say that Trump’s first positive test came after that fundraiser.
Others Test Positive
On Monday, McEnany herself announced that she had tested positive for the virus. Shortly after that, it was confirmed that two of her aides have also tested positive.
That news follows a slew of other high-profile Republicans (and others) who had been around the president in the last week testing positive. This includes:
- RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
- Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)
- Former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-Ut.)
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC.)
- Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien
- Assistant to the President Nicholas Luna
- Three unnamed journalists
See what others are saying: (CNN) (USA Today) (Associated Press)
Ron DeSantis Faces Lawsuit, Investigation for “Human Trafficking” of Migrants
A woman only known as “Pearla” allegedly lured the desperate migrants onto planes with monetary incentives and false promises.
A Political Stunt Blows Up in the Governor’s Face
After unexpectedly flying some 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is staring down a class action lawsuit, a local investigation, and a potential probe from the Justice Department.
On Tuesday, Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the nonprofit Alianza Americas filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of the migrants. The filing names DeSantis, the state of Florida, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and their accomplices as defendants.
It alleges they fraudulently induced the migrants to cross state lines to Martha’s Vineyard, where shelter and resources were not prepared.
According to several accounts, the migrants were falsely promised work, free rent, and immigration assistance in exchange for taking the trip.
The migrants are seeking unspecified damages on top of the cost of their legal fees for emotional and economic harm.
On Monday, Texas Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced that he was opening an investigation into the migrant flights and DeSantis’s role in the scheme, which he called an “abuse of human rights.”
“They feel that they were deceived in being taken from Bexar County — from San Antonio, Texas — to where they eventually ended up,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “That could be a crime here in Texas and we will handle it as such.”
Salazar also said in a statement that his office was working with private attorneys representing the victims and advocacy organizations and that he was prepared to work with “any federal agency with concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise.”
Since making the announcement, the sheriff’s office has been bombarded by threats via phone and email, according to a statement by a spokesperson.
Dylan Fernandes, a Massachusetts state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard, called on the DoJ to launch a human trafficking probe into DeSantis Sunday.
He wrote on Twitter about the “inhumane acts,” saying, “Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”
A Mysterious Woman Named Pearla
Several migrants have told reporters, and claimed in the class action lawsuit, that they were lured onto the planes by a tall, blonde woman calling herself Pearla.
She reportedly approached them outside the San Antonio shelter, on the street, and in a McDonald’s parking lot, talking to them in broken Spanish.
Eduardo Linares, a migrant who said he rejected Pearla’s offer, told The Boston Globe that she promised them a free trip to Massachusetts and guaranteed work.
Another migrant named Alejandro told the outlet she offered him three months of free rent, job placement, and help with his immigration case.
The San Antonio Report interviewed a migrant named Emmanuel who said Pearla paid him $200 to recruit other migrants for the flights.
Tuesday’s lawsuit filing elaborates on their claims, saying that they were enticed with $10 McDonald’s gift cards to fly to Boston or Washington.
It alleges that the migrants were rounded up in hotel rooms while the scheme’s organizers gathered enough people to fill two planes, with them sequestered so they could not discuss the plan with anyone else.
“Once the individual Plaintiffs and class members landed, it became clear that the promises made to induce them on the planes were in fact bold-faced lies,” the filing says.
DeSantis defended himself on Fox News Monday night, saying, “They all signed consent forms to go and then the vendor that is doing this for Florida provided them with a packet that had a map of Martha’s Vineyard, it has the number for different services that are on Martha’s Vineyard.”
The brochures given to the migrants, however, listed services for refugees, not asylum seekers, and some migrants have said they weren’t aware of this fact. If the migrants were misled, the participants in the scheme could be criminally liable.
Who Pearla is and who employs her is still unknown, but DeSantis has publically taken credit for chartering the flights.
The League of United Latin American Citizens is offering $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of Pearla.
Two days after arriving in Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants voluntarily took shelter in a Cape Cod military base, which is designed for such emergency purposes.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (Vice) (The Boston Globe)
Is The Pandemic Really Over? Experts Bristle at Biden’s Declaration
Top Republicans took the president’s words as a signal not to approve any more funds for COVID relief.
The Pandemic’s End
“The pandemic is over,” declared President Joe Biden in a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday night.
“We still have a problem with COVID,” he said. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”
“If you notice, no one is wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape, and so I think it’s changing, and I think this is a perfect example of it,” he added, gesturing around at last week’s Detroit Auto Show, where the interview took place.
The president’s remarks turned many heads among public health experts, who have pointed out that 400 to 500 Americans continue to die from COVID-19 every day.
“We’ve had two million cases reported over the last 28 days, and we know underreporting is substantial,” Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times.
“COVID-19 continues to be the number four cause of death in the country,” he added.
Others argued that the U.S. president does not have the authority to declare a pandemic over. Only the World Health Organization, which first declared the coronavirus a global pandemic in early 2020, holds that power.
“We are not there yet,” WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week. “But the end is in sight.”
To Care or Not to Care: That is the White House’s Question
Biden’s relatively relaxed attitude toward the virus on “60 Minutes” contradicted his administration’s official policy, which aids have been quick to clarify remains the same. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the government’s declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency, which enables it to waive or modify requirements for health-related programs like Medicare and Medicaid, remains in effect. That designation, however, will be up for renewal on October 13.
The White House has also been pushing Congress to allocate another $22 billion toward fighting the pandemic, but top Republicans said Monday that Biden’s comment declaring the pandemic over essentially shuts the door on further aid.
“If it’s over, then I wouldn’t suspect they need any more money,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.) in response Monday.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, added, “I don’t think they were going to get any Covid money through anyway.”
The Biden administration continues to encourage Americans to get the newly authorized “bivalent” COVID-19 booster shot, which provides protection against both the original strain and the omicron subvariants.
The booster shot could prevent as many as 10,000 deaths and 137,000 hospitalizations in the coming months, according to one estimate by Matthew Daley, a physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everybody over the age of 12, and those who are older, pregnant, immunocompromised, or have a chronic illness, in particular, get the booster as soon as possible. But while most Americans have been vaccinated at least once, less than half have gotten their first booster shot, according to CDC data.
New York Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday that vaccine mandates for private employers will end in November, though public employees will still be required to have a vaccine. The day prior, Starbucks also lifted some COVID policies, announcing that its workers will no longer get two weeks of sick pay for coronavirus infections starting on October 2.
In its statement, the company described the pandemic as entering the “endemic” phase.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Trump Plays QAnon Music During Conspiracy-Ridden Speech in Ohio
In recent weeks, the former president has made explicit gestures to QAnon on Truth Social.
The One-Finger Salute Becomes Trump’s Latest Rallying Symbol
In one of his clearest endorsements of the conspiracy theory yet, former president Donald Trump played a QAnon theme song during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday.
Trump was there to support Senate candidate JD Vance ahead of November’s midterm elections. As the night’s rally came to a close, the former president delivered an eight-minute monologue while dramatic string music provided ambiance.
Experts identified the song as “WWG1WGA,” an acronym for the QAnon slogan “Where we go one, we go all.”
But Trump aids who spoke to The New York Times claimed it was in fact a song called “Mirrors” by film and TV composer Will Van De Crommer.
“The fake news, in a pathetic attempt to create controversy and divide America, is brewing up another conspiracy about a royalty-free song from a popular audio library platform,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich, told the outlet.
When Trump posted a video to Truth Social containing the same music last month, however, music professor David Dominique told Vice the two songs were indistinguishable.
“I have listened to both [‘Mirrors’ and ‘WWG1WGA’] closely several times now,” he said. “And I have 100% professional confidence these recordings are identical, not even a reinterpretation of a composition, but the same recording.”
Media Matters also analyzed the songs using the software Audacity and found their audio profiles to be “virtually identical.”
When the song played on Saturday, dozens of people in the audience saluted with one finger extended in the air, a gesture Trump aids told The Times they have never seen at one of the former president’s rallies before.
The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, who has a book about QAnon coming out next year, called the salute “curious” in a Twitter thread.
“Some on Twitter are calling it a QAnon salute, with 1 finger for ‘Where we go 1,’ and Trump is playing a pro-Q song as he talks,” he wrote. “I’ve never seen this happen before, though, so if it’s a Q thing it’s new.”
He added the caveat: “The one finger thing might also be for ‘America First.’ The white nationalist groypers, for example, do a one finger salute for that reason.”
Trump Warms to QAnon
QAnon is a conspiracy theory encompassing a wide range of beliefs, but the most common iteration posits that Trump is locked in a secret struggle against a global cabal of Democratic elites and satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles.
The Trump administration generally kept its distance from the movement throughout most of his term, then the former president began to signal his sympathy for it as the 2020 election drew closer.
He congratulated Marjorie Taylor Greene, a prominent politician who has expressed belief in QAnon, for winning Georgia’s GOP primary.
When asked about QAnon a few days later, Trump told the press corps, “I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.”
One reporter followed up by asking him specifically about the idea that he was serving as a warrior against a satanic cabal of pedophiles and cannibals, to which Trump replied, “If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it.”
Late last month, the former president created and shared a flurry of posts on Truth Social that were explicitly related to QAnon.
In one, he reposted the slogan “Where We Go One We Go All,” and in another, he reposted a 2017 message from “Q,” the anonymous persona at the center of the conspiracy theory, criticizing the intelligence community. The string of posts came one day after he demanded to be reinstated as president, and just weeks after the FBI executed a search warrant on his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Last week, Trump posted a meme of himself wearing a Q lapel pin with the words “The storm is coming” superimposed over it. In QAnon lore, “the storm” refers to the imminent return of Trump to the White House and subsequent mass arrest of the deep-state cabal.
In May 2021, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) conducted a survey of Americans’ belief in specific QAnon-related conspiracies.
Around 15% of respondents, equivalent to nearly 50 million people if extrapolated to the general population, agreed with the statement: “The government, media and financial world in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”