Trump returns to Oval Office, breaking isolation after his hospitalization for coronavirus

President Donald Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday, breaking isolation after his hospitalization for coronavirus and as an ongoing outbreak rips through his staff.

Posted: Oct 7, 2020 5:07 PM
Updated: Oct 8, 2020 9:01 PM

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday, breaking isolation after his hospitalization for coronavirus and as an ongoing outbreak rips through his staff.

The White House said he was being briefed on a looming hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and stimulus talks, though Trump himself scrapped talks on additional aid a day earlier.

Unsatisfied with the temporary office space erected for him in the White House residence, where he was isolating after returning from three days in the hospital, Trump had been itching to return to the Oval Office since Tuesday but aides convinced him to stay put.

Few seemed to believe, however, that Trump would last much longer isolating in his private quarters.

In a new memo released midday Wednesday, Trump's doctor relayed the President saying "I feel great!" and reported he had been symptom-free for 24 hours. But the memo declined again to provide critical information such as when Trump last tested negative, what his lung scans show and whether he is still on the steroid dexamethasone or any other medications that could be masking his symptoms.

Trump's "schedule right now is fluid, we're looking at his prognosis," chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters earlier at the White House. "If he decides to go to the Oval, we've got safety protocols there."

Indeed, preparations had been made for Trump's eventual return to the Oval Office, including positioning a so-called "isolation cart" stocked with yellow medical gowns, respirator masks and plastic goggles required for visitors just outside the office doors near where Trump's assistants sit.

When he did return, Trump avoided other areas of the Wing Wing, entering the Oval Office directly from outside. Meadows and social media adviser Dan Scavino joined him there dressed in the protective gear. It wasn't clear who else he might have encountered along the way.

Trump made phone calls and spoke with aides mostly from his third-floor quarters on Tuesday but did tape a video from downstairs where offices were set up for him next to the medical suite. The video hadn't been released by Wednesday morning, nor had the White House distributed any photos of the President after his return from Walter Reed hospital.

All except Trump's senior-most aides are mostly in the dark about his health status beyond what his doctor released publicly. While he seemed short of breath at times on Monday night, people said he seemed somewhat better on Tuesday, though few actually saw him in person.

In his memo on Wednesday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley wrote Trump "has not needed nor received any supplemental oxygen since initial hospitalization" and said he has been "fever-free for more than 4 days," but did not say whether Trump was currently receiving any medications which could lower a fever.

Trump's labs, he said, "demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies from labs drawn Monday."

Regeneron, the company that makes the experimental antibody treatment given to Trump on Friday, said the test likely showed evidence of the treatment, not Trump's own immune response.

Over the weekend, Trump's physician said days seven to 10 after Trump's diagnosis could be the most critical, a window that seemed to open on Wednesday. The White House continued to refuse to disclose when Trump last tested negative for coronavirus, throwing into doubt the extensive testing regimen they had long pointed to as their main protection against the virus.

It also wasn't clear which drugs the President continues to take. He was due to receive his final dose of remdesivir on Tuesday night at the White House but it wasn't known if he remains on a steroid, which some inside the building have openly speculated could be altering his mood.

Any aide who comes near Trump is required to don protective garb, according to a person familiar with the matter. It has given the White House residence the feeling of a sci-fi movie, one person said, as aides, staff and Secret Service personnel who need to come near Trump suit up to protect themselves.

Trump had raised on Tuesday the possibility of working from the Oval Office instead of the rooms that have been arranged for him on the lower level of the executive mansion, saying he feels ready to go back. Aides convinced him to remain isolated at least for a day.

The hallways and offices in the West Wing have taken on a very different feel from when he left for the hospital on Friday. The President's staff has largely moved to working from home because so many of them have tested positive for coronavirus.

More than 15 members of Trump's staff or inner-circle have tested positive in recent days, including his wife, senior adviser, press secretary, campaign manager, former counselor, personal assistant, four press aides, three Republican senators and a member of the military who directly serves the President.

Stephen Miller, Trump's immigration adviser and speechwriter, said he tested positive Tuesday and was entering isolation. He is one of several people who had helped Trump prepare for last week's presidential debate who have now tested positive, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

It was unclear when the White House or the President would release the video remarks he taped on Tuesday, whose themes were similar to those in the video Trump recorded Monday night, a person familiar with the taping told CNN.

The atmosphere inside the White House was described by one official as "chaotic," largely because many people were working remotely and the President was calling the shots.

The-CNN-Wire
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Out of IL160

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1003647

Reported Deaths: 16423
CountyCasesDeaths
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