Donald Trump 'Gasping for Air' Video Raises Questions About President's Health

After President Donald Trump returned to the White House following his stay in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, many social media users commented that he appeared to be struggling to breathe in footage of him standing on the Truman Balcony of the White House just after his arrival.

Though Trump "may not entirely be out of the woods yet," the president was discharged from the hospital as he "met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria," Dr. Sean Conley, the president's physician, said at a press briefing Monday joined by the medical team treating the president.

Responding to the footage of Trump on the balcony, Congressman Ted Lieu, representative for California's 33rd congressional district, tweeted: "If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a video? This 8 second video destroys all attempts by @realDonaldTrump to downplay the virus because it shows him gasping for air. Many Americans are now visually seeing how the virus causes breathing difficulties & lung damage."

Congressional candidate for Oregon's 1st congressional district, Amanda Siebe, tweeted: "That's not 'looks like'...That for sure [is] him gasping for air. He is sick. It's so easy to see. When you're chronically sick you know what to look for cuz we're always trying to figure out what we need to do better to hide it. Trump is really sick & feeling it. Look at his eyes."

However, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who also tested positive for COVID-19, tweeted Tuesday: "Our President @realDonaldTrump contracted COVID-19 & is doing extraordinarily well, standing on the balcony days after his diagnosis. He is LEADING and REASSURING the nation."

Newsweek has contacted the White House, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, the American College of Chest Physicians and The Pulmonary Wellness Foundation for comment.

President Trump White House balcony October 2020
President Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5. Win McNamee/Getty Images

What doctors have said about Trump's health status

Dr. Conley stated at the Monday press briefing: "Over the past 24 hours, the president has continued to improve. He's met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria. He'll receive another dose of remdesivir here today, and then we plan to get him home.

"It's been more than 72 hours since his last fever, oxygen levels, including ambulatory saturations and his work of breathing are all normal. Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations, and most importantly his clinical status, support the president's safe return home, where he'll be surrounded by world-class medical care 24/7."

Dr. Sean Dooley, a pulmonary critical care physician, said: "The president continues to do very well. His vital signs this morning were notable for a temperature of 98.1, his blood pressure was 134 over 78, and a respiratory rate of 17 respirations per minute, and his heart rate was 68 beats per minute.

"His last oxyhemoglobin saturation was 97 percent on room air. He currently does not [have] any respiratory complaints, and aside from our evaluation with the multidisciplinary team this morning, has maintained a full schedule, ambulating and working on the White House medical unit."

Dr. Brian Garibaldi, director of the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit, noted the president received his third dose of the antiviral drug remdesivir on Monday. Dr. Garibaldi said: "He tolerated that infusion without difficulty and his kidney and liver function continued to be normal.

"Our plan is to give the fourth dose of remdesivir this evening before he goes back to the White House. We've made arrangements to deliver the fifth and final dose of his treatment course at the White House tomorrow evening [Tuesday]. He continues on [the steroid drug] dexamethasone and, again, the plan for today is to continue to be up and out of bed, eat and drink, and work as he is able."

Dexamethasone and remdesivir are both used for COVID-19 patients who require supplemental oxygen, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

When a reporter asked how the president can be discharged to return to the White House when he is still on steroids, Dr. Conley replied: "We send patients home with medications all the time. In fact, yesterday afternoon [Sunday], he probably met most of his discharge requirements safely from the hospital.

"He's returning to a facility, the White House medical unit, that's staffed 24/7, top-notch physicians, nurses, PAs, logisticians. The unit here, the team here behind me, is going to continue to support us in that nature," he added.

Concerns remain over the president's return to the White House and the potential risks involved.

When a reporter asked Dr. Conley about what infection control measures were being implemented at the White House, he responded: "We've worked with our infectious disease experts to make some recommendations for how to keep everything safe down at the White House for the president and those around him.

"We're looking at where he's [Trump] going to be able to carry out his duties, office space. I'll just say that it's in line with everything we've been doing upstairs for the last several days," Dr. Conley added.

Dr. Leana Wen, an ER (emergency room) doctor and visiting professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, tweeted Monday: "If @realDonaldTrump were my patient, in unstable condition + contagious illness, & he suddenly left the hospital to go for a car ride that endangers himself & others: I'd call security to restrain him then perform a psychiatric evaluation to examine his decision-making capacity."

The wider picture

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 35.5 million people across the globe since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, including over 7.4 million in the U.S. More than a million have died following infection, while more than 24.7 million have reportedly recovered as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates U.S. states with the most COVID-19 cases.

Spread of COVID-19 cases in U.S.
STATISTA

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates a survey of U.S. adults concerned about catching COVID-19.

U.S. adults concerned about catching COVID-19
STATISTA
Donald Trump 'Gasping for Air' Video Raises Questions About President's Health | News