White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the administration is “optimistic” President Trump will be able to return to the White House on Monday after spending several days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center being treated for coronavirus, saying Trump’s health improved overnight and the president is ready to get back “to a normal working schedule.”
“Spoke to the president this morning,” Meadows said. “He continued to improve overnight and is ready to get back to a normal working schedule.” He added that the president “will meet with his doctors and nurses this morning to make further assessments of his progress.”
Meadows added, “We are still optimistic that he will be able to return to the White House later today, with his medical professionals making that determination later today.”
Meadows, during an interview on “Fox & Friends,” said that the White House would know about the president’s potential release by “the earliest” Monday afternoon.
Meadows did say, though, that the president is “really, not only understanding what millions of Americans have had to face as they’ve come in contact with this disease, but more importantly the fact that we need to continue to work on therapeutics.”
“His treatment has been remarkable,” Meadows said. “His strength has been incredible.”
The president has received doses of Remdesivir so far, an anti-viral drug that has been approved by the FDA to help treat the coronavirus.
“If you look at the therapeutics which I’m taking right now some of them and others that are coming out soon that are looking like, frankly they’re miracles,” Trump said in a video posted to his Twitter Saturday night.
“I don’t know the next period of a few days, I guess — that’s the real test so we’ll be seeing what happened over those next couple of days,” he added.
Meadows’ comments came as the president has been trying to project an image of strength during his stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center while fighting COVID-19. The president, over the course of the last several days, has faced health scares amid his battle with the novel coronavirus, including two instances in which his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly. Doctors treated the president with a dose of the steroid dexamethasone in response.
A normal blood oxygen reading is between 95 and 100. Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician who has served as the president’s personal physician, said Trump had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94% on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday.
Nevertheless, members of the president’s medical team said they have been encouraged by his energy and test results, and have signaled that he may be ready to be discharged from Walter Reed on Monday.
The president, on Sunday, took a brief trip outside the hospital to greet supporters who had gathered outside, but was criticized for the brief motorcade visit, with some saying he jeopardized the health of members of the U.S. Secret Service for a brief photo-op.
In response, White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement that “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE.”
He added, “The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”
But Meadows, on Monday, pushed back at those critics, saying “how do they think he got here?”
“We came here on Marine One, the U.S. Secret Service agent that is with him has been with him, and yet we took additional precautions with PPE and others to make sure they were protected,” Meadows said. “A number of folks are trying to make a big deal about that when I know myself and Secret Service details are with him everyday and want him to return to the White House as expeditiously as possible.”
Meadows went on to explain that he has been working with the president from Walter Reed for the last “72 hours,” and said he is “not going in in a hazmat suit.”
“I’m in a suit, I go in with a mask, and we have eye protection as well,” Meadows explained. “We’re close to him, we continue to engage in his room and in the working environment as well.”
Meadows noted that his own family “does get worried,” but said that “this is a message to our military men and women.”
“I’m not having bullets shot at me, and I may put myself at risk because of this virus,” Meadows explained. “But the president is going to defeat this virus. I’m not putting myself in harm’s way with bullets.”
He added: “This is an enemy that we will defeat and we will do that together, but those are the risks associated with this job.”
Meanwhile, as White House staff awaits the president’s return, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Sunday that the White House would not be releasing the names or the exact number of staffers who have become infected with the novel coronavirus – backtracking on a previous comment by another spokeswoman.
McEnany said due to privacy concerns the White House would not release the number of employees who have COVID-19 despite previous assurances by Alyssa Farah – the White House director of strategic communications – that the numbers possibly would come out.
“There are privacy concerns,” McEnany said. “We take seriously safeguarding the information of personnel here in the White House.”
McEnany would also not comment on whether President Trump – who announced in the early morning hours Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump had contracted the virus – had received a coronavirus test before last week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio or before a fundraiser at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey last Thursday.
“I’m not going to give you a detailed readout with time stamps every time he is tested,” she said. “He is tested regularly and the first positive test he received was after his return from Bedminster.”
On Thursday morning, Trump’s senior counselor Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus.
The results came not long before the president was set to lift off in Marine One for the fundraiser at his golf club.
Hicks’ diagnosis affirmed that Trump had been in close proximity to someone infected with the virus. That’s when you should quarantine, according to public-health guidelines. But Trump went ahead with the trip. Not only that, but others who had also been around Hicks were not immediately told about her positive test.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.