October 30, 2020

White House physician walks back a confusing timeline of Trumps coronavirus infection that implied he was diagnosed days before announcing his test results

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  • White House physician Sean Conley made contradictory statements about the timeline of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection on Saturday.
  • Conley said he was “72 hours into the diagnosis,” which would mean that Trump was diagnosed on Wednesday, though his positive test results were publicly disclosed early Friday.
  • Another doctor on Trump’s team said the president received an experimental antibody treatment “48 hours ago,” a full day earlier than Conley previously reported.
  • A White House official later walked back the doctors’ Saturday statements, saying they meant “day three” and “two days.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

White House physician Sean Conley offered a new timeline for the president’s coronavirus infection during a press briefing Saturday morning. He later contradicted himself while a White House official walked back the statement.

Conley held the briefing to review President Donald Trump’s condition after he was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday evening. The physician said Trump’s condition had improved, but he also said the president’s COVID-19 infection had been identified a day earlier than previously thought.

“Just 72 hours into the diagnosis now,” Conley said. “The first week of COVID, and in particular days 7 to 10 are the most critical in determining the likely course of this illness.”

That would mean that Trump had been diagnosed on Wednesday.

Dr. Brian Garibaldi, a physician on the team caring for the president at Walter Reed, also said that Trump had received an experimental antibody treatment “48 hours ago,” which would be roughly Thursday morning.

This was a different timeline than the one constructed by incremental statements from the White House. Trump announced his positive test results early Friday morning, and the White House disclosed his experimental antibody treatment later that day.

When asked to clarify, Conley contradicted his earlier statement.

“Thursday afternoon following the news of a close contact is when we repeated testing, and given kind of clinical indications had a little bit more concern. And that’s when late that night we got the PCR confirmation that he was [positive],” he said.

Shortly after the briefing, a White House official amended the timeline that Conley and Garibaldi offered, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Ballhaus.

“He says Conley meant to say it’s Day 3, not 72 hours in — the diagnosis was made Thursday night — and that Garibaldi meant to say it’s been two days, not 48 hours, since the Regeneron was administered on Thursday night,” Ballhaus said on Twitter.

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