WASHINGTON – Ever since President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he had tested positive for coronavirus, the White House has sent mixed signals about his condition and the timeline of events leading up to his transfer to the hospital.
That confusion was amplified Saturday when Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, offered a rosy assessment of the president’s condition only to be contradicted later by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who told Fox News that Trump’s condition before entering the hospital “concerned” aides and doctors.
Conley then clarified his remarks when he told reporters that Trump was “72 hours” into his diagnosis, a timeline that would have meant the White House knew he was sick Wednesday. Conley later said he should have described Saturday as the “third day” of Trump’s fight – that is, late Thursday, into Friday and then Saturday.
Here’s a look at the timeline of events since Trump announced his diagnosis:
Oct. 1, 10:44 p.m. ET: Trump tweets that longtime aide Hope Hicks has tested positive for coronavirus. Reporters quickly establish that Hicks took recent trips with Trump, including aboard Marine One.
Trump says he will quarantine and says he’s awaiting test results.
Oct. 2, 12:45 a.m. ET.Trump announces on Twitter that he has tested positive for coronavirus, a stunning development with the potential to upend his campaign and his administration’s messaging on its response to the virus. White House officials later say Trump had received the test about an hour before the announcement.
Trump says first lady Melania Trump is also positive.
Trump is silent on whether he has symptoms, but White House physician Sean Conley says days later that Trump had developed a fever and congestion by Thursday night.
“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” Trump tweeted. “We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Oct. 2, 1:11 a.m. Conley releases a memo confirming the positive test result and asserts that the president and first lady plan “to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.” Trump istransferred to Walter Reed Medical Center later that day. The memo mentions no symptoms and few specifics.
Oct. 2. Trump cancels his public schedule, except for a midday phone call focused on patients most vulnerable to coronavirus. He later opts out of that call, handing it over instead to Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump remains almost entirely out of view and off Twitter, even as a bevy of Republicans announce they, too, have tested positive. Many of those officials attended an event at the White House on Sept. 26 to mark the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Oct. 2, 10:40 a.m. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows briefs reporters about the president’s condition at the White House. Meadows said the president had “mild symptoms,” but does not describe them. He says Trump remained “very energetic.”
Meadows, not wearing a mask, said the White House learned of Hicks’ positive test as Marine One was lifting off the South Lawn on Thursday to transport the president to a fundraiser in New Jersey. Questions later surface about why Trump attended the campaign event knowing he had been exposed to someone with a positive test result.
Oct. 2, around 1:20 p.m. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tells Fox News she’s not “going to get into an exact timeline” about when the White House knew about Hicks’ condition. She says the White House announced Trump’s results about an hour after his positive test result and described his symptoms as “mild.”
Oct. 2, before 6 p.m. Trump is given oxygen at the White House on Friday, according to the Associated Press. White House officials have declined to answer questions from USA TODAY about whether and when he received that treatment. Experts say it’s not uncommon for people with COVID-19 to have intermittent oxygen needs.
Oct. 2, 4:11 p.m. Conley releases a second memo, noting the president received an 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail as a precautionary measure. The antibody cocktail is being studied in four late-stage clinical trials, and its safety and efficacy have not been fully evaluated. The memo says that Trump experienced “fatigue” but does not mention fever, congestion or other symptoms Conley would not disclose until the next day. Oxygen is not mentioned.
Oct. 2, 6:16 p.m. Trump exits the White House and walks to Marine One for the short helicopter flight to Walter Reed Medical Center. Both Trump and Meadows are wearing masks. Trump gives a thumbs up but makes no remarks to reporters gathered on the South Lawn. He arrives at the Walter Reed landing zone at 6:29 p.m.
In a video released after his departure, Trump tells the public that he and the first lady are doing well.
“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,” Trump said. “The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
Oct. 2, 11:47 p.m. Conley releases a third memo, disclosing that Trump has taken a course of Remdesivir, which has been authorized for COVID-19 patients by the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use declaration. Trials have shown effectiveness under some circumstances. Conley writes that Trump “is not requiring any supplemental oxygen.” No additional symptoms are mentioned.
Oct. 3, 11 a.m. Conley provides a briefing on the president’s condition at Walter Reed Medical Center, saying that the president’s symptoms are “now resolving and improving.” He discloses on the record for the first time that the president had a fever, but says Trump has been fever free for 24 hours.
But the briefing raises as many questions as it answers, specifically whether oxygen was administered to the president. Conley says no oxygen was administered Thursday, Saturday or Friday after Trump arrived at the hospital. But he does not rule out that oxygen was administered Friday before Trump traveled to Walter Reed.
Oct. 3, around noon An administration official – later identified by the Associated Press and the New York Times as Meadows – met with reporters and described the president’s condition earlier in the week as “very concerning.”
The official said “the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.”
Honoring conditions set by by the White House, a pool report sent to the White House press corps did not identify the official by name. However, a video posted online captured Meadows briefing the White House pool reporters after Conley’s remarks, identifying him as the source. Meadows made similar remarks to Fox News on the record later Saturday.
Oct. 3, 1:50 p.m. Conley releases a memo clarifying his “72 hours” remarks, saying he incorrectly used the term “72 hours” instead of “day three.”
Oct. 3, 6:51 p.m. Trump tweets a video of himself at Walter Reed, saying he is “starting to feel good” and is “doing well.” Wearing a blue blazer and white shirt and speaking directly to the camera, Trump said that when he arrived at Walter Reed Medical Center he “wasn’t feeling so well” but said he felt “much better now. We’re working hard to get me all the way back.” Later the White House releases photos of the president signing a paper and sitting at a long conference table.
Oct. 3, 9:08 p.m. McEnany tweets a memo from Conley saying the president had made “substantial progress” in fighting the virus and had taken a second dose of Remdesivir.
Oct. 3, around 9:30 p.m. In an interview on Fox, Meadows discloses for the first time that the president’s blood oxygen level on Friday had “dropped rapidly.” He says that he and the president’s doctor were “very concerned” earlier and that the president is “not out of the woods.” Meadows says that Trump has made “unbelievable improvements.”