Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care. President Trump is going home from the hospital tonight, but his doctor still won’t answer some key questions about his case of coronavirus. Let’s start there.
Trump announces he’s leaving Walter Reed Monday evening
President Trump announced that he will be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Monday evening after three days of treatment, insisting that Americans should not be “afraid” of the novel coronavirus.
Trump, whose oxygen levels dropped as recently as Saturday and who is on several medications following his COVID-19 diagnosis, tweeted that he is “feeling really good” and that Americans should not allow COVID-19 to “dominate your life,” downplaying a virus that has killed over 210,000 people in the country. He said that he feels better than he did 20 years ago following his treatment at the military hospital in Bethesda, Md.
A message still downplaying the virus: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” Trump tweeted. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
Not totally in the clear: White House physician Sean Conley told reporters that Trump’s symptoms have continued to improve and that he has met or exceeded all discharge criteria. But he acknowledged that Trump may not yet be “out of the woods,” underscoring the degree of uncertainty surrounding his condition.
Read more here.
At the same time, Trump’s doctor declines to answer key questions
White House physician Sean Conley on Monday ducked repeated questions from reporters about President Trump‘s health and the timeline of his COVID-19 infection, even as he insisted the president is well enough to leave the hospital and return to the White House.
Conley, who has come under scrutiny for offering conflicting statements about the president’s health in recent days, briefed reporters hours before Trump is expected to depart Walter Reed hospital, where he’s been treated for the virus for three days.
Conley noticeably refused to answer multiple questions about when Trump last tested negative for the virus, something White House officials have similarly declined to share in recent days.
“I don’t want to go backwards. The contact tracing as I understand is being done,” Conley said.
Pressed again on why he would not disclose when Trump last tested negative, Conley smiled, saying “everyone wants that.”
Why it matters: The timing of Trump’s last negative test could be critical in determining how many people he may have exposed to COVID-19 and when it would be safe for him to interact with others again.
Read more here.
In other COVID-19 news, CDC says the virus can spread through airborne transmission
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday that coronavirus can spread through “airborne transmission” to people who are more than 6 feet away under certain conditions.
The update on the agency’s website is an important change to the understanding of how the virus spreads, and one that many experts have been pointing to for months.
The new guidance comes after the CDC sparked confusion last month by posting a document online about airborne transmission, only to take it down and say it was still being reviewed.
Video: Trump doctor acknowledges he did not reveal key information on President Trump’s condition (NBC News)
Now, the agency has finally posted the guidance, which is careful to say that airborne transmission “sometimes” happens but that the virus “most commonly” spreads between people who are within 6 feet of each other.
The danger of airborne transmission beyond 6 feet largely occurs indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, which is part of the reason why outdoor activities are considered safer.
Read more here.
It’s not just Trump…White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also tested positive
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for COVID-19, she said Monday, making her the latest person in President Trump‘s orbit to contract the virus.
“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms. No reporters, producers or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit,” she said in a statement.
Two assistant press secretaries who work in the West Wing also tested positive, according to multiple reports. Both reportedly tested positive prior to McEnany’s announcement on Monday.
Many of those who have tested positive, including McEnany, attended a White House event on Sept. 26 during which Trump announced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court.
Read more here.
Cornyn: Trump ‘let his guard down’ on coronavirus
Some notable comments from a top Republican senator, and one in a competitive reelection race: Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) said Monday that President Trump “let his guard down” on the coronavirus, in some of the toughest comments yet from a GOP lawmaker about the president’s handling of the virus after Trump announced his positive test early Friday morning.
“I think he let his guard down, and I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us – I think he got out over his skis and frankly, I think it’s a lesson to all of us that we need to exercise self discipline,” Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle editorial board.
The newspaper reported that the comment came after Cornyn was asked about Trump rarely wearing a mask and holding largely mask-less events such as the Supreme Court nomination announcement, after which multiple attendees have now announced positive tests.
Context: Cornyn, in addition to being the former No. 2 Republican in the Senate, is facing an election in less than a month against Democrat MJ Hegar. Cornyn is favored in the race, with the Cook Political Report rating it “likely Republican,” but it’s still competitive.
Read more here.
What we’re reading
Europe struggles to contain surge of coronavirus cases (The Guardian)
Allergies, colds, flu and COVID-19: how to best prep for fall’s ‘sick season’ (NPR)
Trump’s use of Regeneron’s experimental coronavirus treatment creates ‘very tough situation,’ CEO says (CNBC)
State by state
COVID-19 hospitalizations continue rising in South Dakota (Argus Leader)
As Gov. Whitmer’s coronavirus orders fizzle, health departments across Michigan consider their own (M Live)
The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients is on the rise in Massachusetts (Boston.com)
The Hill op-eds
We need to curb the coronavirus outbreak in the Senate – now
Trump ordered meatpacking plants open – now, workers are left holding the bag
ICE is guilty of unsafe practices in detention centers causing COVID-19 to spread
Forget politics and take COVID-19 seriously