Video screenshot, WMC-TV

In a story that's every bit as unstartling as it is disgusting, the New York Times reports that Donald Trump's October bout of COVID-19 was actually much more serious than Trump or the White House let on at the time, which would really be astonishing news if virtually everyone outside TrumpWorld (except for those who doubt he ever had it at all) hadn't already suspected exactly that. But while the news is hardly a surprise, it's good to have the details confirmed. Citing "four people familiar with his condition" when he was sick, the Times says Trump had scary-low blood oxygen levels and lung problems common to patients with severe cases of COVID-19. And before Trump was helicoptered off to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, in fact, officials expected he might need to be put on a ventilator.

So yeah, he was in tip-top shape and everything was fine, just like everyone around him insisted while posting photos of the Great Man signing blank papers with a Sharpie.

Relentless lying, at least. Strong like bullshit!


The medical details are certainly not what you'd describe as "minor" if they involved you or a loved one:

The people familiar with Mr. Trump's health said he was found to have lung infiltrates, which occur when the lungs are inflamed and contain substances such as fluid or bacteria. Their presence, especially when a patient is exhibiting other symptoms, can be a sign of an acute case of the disease. They can be easily spotted on an X-ray or scan, when parts of the lungs appear opaque, or white.

Mr. Trump's blood oxygen level alone was cause for extreme concern, dipping into the 80s, according to the people familiar with his evaluation. The disease is considered severe when the blood oxygen level falls to the low 90s.

And then there was all the lying and covering up by Trump's doctor, Sean P. Conley, who helped spin the narrative that Trump was on the mend almost from the moment the news of Trump's diagnosis became public.

At one briefing, Dr. Conley said Mr. Trump was receiving X-ray and CT scans. But when asked about whether there was evidence of pneumonia or damage to the tissue, he would only say there were "expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern."

But if "lung infiltrates" are what you'd expect to find in someone with an acute case of COVID-19, and the patient isn't in immediate danger of dying, then hey, maybe that statement isn't a lie, exactly, just a very creative shading of the "truth."

Same goes for Conley's carefully parsed explanation that while Trump's blood oxygen level had gone as low as 93 percent, it never dropped into the "low 80s." See, he never said it hadn't gone below 93 percent, and even if at some point it had dipped into the 80s, that wasn't the low 80s. He's a very truthy guy!

Also, the Times reminds us that Conley was happy to confirm information on Trump's condition once someone else had leaked it, so he's a very font of medical transparency:

Mr. Trump had trouble breathing at the White House. He was twice given oxygen before being taken to Walter Reed, as Dr. Conley acknowledged after it was reported by The New York Times.

Besides, Conley eventually admitted he had offered a cheery spin on Trump's condition, because accentuating the positive is what medical science is all about:

I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had. I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true.

And no, despite the clumsy phrasing, we're fairly sure that bit about not wanting to "steer the course of illness in another direction" isn't magical thinking. Probably. Unless Conley thought any public acknowledgement of how sick Trump really was might upset the Great Man so much that he'd get sicker β€” but that would involve Trump giving two shits about an expert opinion in the first place.

Pretty rude of Joe Biden to fire Conley and replace him with Dr. Kevin O'Connor a few days after being sworn in as president. But we guess it's not uncommon for presidents to name their own preferred White House physician, and we also assume Biden prefers his health be supervised by someone who won't inspire Dr. Spaceman memes.

You're welcome.

The Times article also reports other previously unknown details of the stupid way Trump reacted to his diagnosis. F'rinstance, we learn that Trump initially "resisted being taken from the White House to Walter Reed," and only agreed to go to the hospital when aides said that if he didn't walk to the helicopter on his own, he might be seen on TV being carried out by Secret Service agents, and wouldn't that just be the worst thing possible?

The story also explains how the administration pulled stings β€” or at least made aggressive use of administrative procedures β€” to get the FDA to grant emergency approval for Trump to be treated with the Regeneron antibody cocktail, under a

standard process known as an emergency investigational new drug application, often used for very ill patients who agree to take an experimental drug still being tested in clinical trials. The agency reviews the medical histories of those patients to identify whether there might be severe risks to take a treatment.

As medical experts pointed out at the time, the very fact that Trump was able to get drugs that hadn't yet been approved by the FDA suggested he was sicker than anyone was admitting. Gosh, why were they so cynical and unwilling to believe what the White House was saying?

The piece closes with a bit of doctor humor: Trump made a habit of insisting the Regeneron treatment was a miracle "cure" (it isn't) and of saying, "I'm proof it works."

That line became a running joke among top health officials, who would ask each other whether anyone was going to break it to Mr. Trump that he was in fact a failed clinical trial result for Regeneron, since the aim is to prevent people from being hospitalized after receiving it, one former senior administration official said.

We appreciate knowing that. Not just for the behind-the-scenes glimpse of how people around Trump considered him an idiot, but also for the fact that the story of his own medical experts laughing at him is no doubt going to drive Trump crazy today.

[NYT]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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