Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Weekly fact check: misinformation, conflicting statements follow Trump's coronavirus diagnosis

In the days President Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus, statements from White House staff and the presidents doctors have been confusing and sometimes contradictory. Here's some fact-checking on that and related matters from FactCheck.org.

"Trump’s medical team has portrayed his illness as relatively mild and improving, but also has shared details that would suggest the president may be sicker than they have described," Eugene Kiely and Jessica McDonald report. They highlight some examples:
  • On the evening of Oct. 1, Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity that he would get his test back that night or the next morning, suggesting he did not know whether he was positive. But he had already tested positive with a rapid-results test, and was referring to a more accurate test that took longer to develop.
  • Trump's doctors falsely said several times that Trump had not received supplemental oxygen, that his symptoms were mild but an anonymous source, later revealed to be White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told a White House pool reporter that "The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery."
  • Conley sought to clear up confusion about when Trump was diagnosed, since his initial statements made it appear that Trump knew he was positive for a full day before the announcement. 
  • In a briefing on Oct. 4, Conley admitted that he had not disclosed earlier that Trump received supplemental oxygen because he wanted to make things look more upbeat and, apparently, avoid upsetting the president so much that his illness worsened. "I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had," Conley said. "I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction and in doing so, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true."

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