What we know and what we don't about Trump's COVID illness

Full Screen
1 / 8

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Karen Simon from the District of Columbia, right, together with other supporters of President Donald Trump, gather outside the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Trump hoped for a Monday discharge from the military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump's release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and return to the White House make one thing blindingly clear: He is eager to get his battle with COVID-19 behind him, as a reelection campaign clouded by the pandemic draws to a close.

Little else about the president's illness was certain, though. Trump’s doctors and aides were withholding key information on just how sick the president was, what risks lie ahead for Trump under progression of the illness and under treatment by a novel combination of powerful medications, and whether the White House’s aides, security guards, cooks, cleaners and servers from infection by the still-contagious president.

What we know, and what we don’t know:


Trump made clear he is eager to put his three-night stay at Walter Reed behind him, and to play down a pandemic that has killed more than 209,000 Americans. “Feeling really good!” he tweeted. “Don’t be afraid of Covid.”

Disclosures over the weekend that the president’s blood oxygen levels had dropped below normal levels at least twice, and that he was receiving steroid treatment typically used in more serious cases, suggested the president was enduring more than a mild case of COVID-19.

Doctors say that Trump will continue to receive his treatments from the White House. Trump on Friday began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. He received a single dose Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus.

Trump’s also received treatment with the steroid dexamethasone. It has only been proven to help in more serious cases. Among concerns with its use — steroids can tamp down the body’s own ability to fight off infection.