Trump’s Covid infection was so severe officials thought he might need a ventilator


Top line

Former President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection in October was much worse than what the president and his aides said, according to The New York Times, who reported that officials feared Trump’s condition was so bad before he left the White House that he may have needed a ventilator while in hospital.


CNN also reported Thursday that there were concerns that Trump might need a ventilator, while the Times-citing four people with knowledge of his condition, said Trump’s blood oxygen level was dangerously low and he was suffering from a pulmonary complication from pneumonia called pulmonary infiltrates.

According to National Institutes of Health, this problem is related to a “hyper-inflammation phase” which usually occurs in the later stages of a Covid-19 infection.

Questions have long swirled about the severity of Trump’s condition perhaps, although the former president and his aides, including former White House doctor Dr Sean Conley, have continually played down the impact.

Trump said that when he was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he “did not feel so good“, and officials at the time said Trump had a fever and breathing problems.

But little was known to the public beyond that, and Conley only revealed Trump received supplemental oxygen at the White House after information surfaced.

Representatives of what Trump dubbed “the former president’s office” declined a request for comment.

Surprising fact

There had been hints that Trump’s condition was worse than advertised. He told an NBC town hall on October 15 that doctors told him his “lungs are a little different“during his hospitalization, without providing further details on what that meant. In a notable incident while he was hospitalized, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows suggested that the state of Trump was “very worrying” which would have infuriated the former president.

Key context

Trump announced in an early morning tweet on October 2 that he and former first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid, which was part of a great epidemic at the White House. His condition apparently deteriorated rapidly, leading him to reluctantly agree to be hospitalized later that day. Trump spent the weekend in hospital, where he received treatment consisting of Remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and a then unapproved experimental antibody cocktail from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. The aggressive treatment regimen was an early indicator that Trump’s infection had become severe. Trump was released from the hospital on the evening of October 5, filming a video as he returned to the White House where he ripped off his mask and greeted his departing helicopter.


After returning from hospitalization, Trump tweeted a video where he said “do not be afraid of Covid “and” don’t let him dominate you “, after his normally endemic tweets notably declined during his hospitalization. Trump’s apparently severe infection with Covid appears to have little impact on the former president’s precautions, or their absence, when it comes to preventing the spread of Covid – it has routinely packed thousands of supporters, most of them without masks, in rallies across the country ahead of election day.

Further reading

Trump was sicker than acknowledged with Covid-19 (The New York Times)

Doctor says symptom-free Trump feels ‘fine’, offers few details (Forbes)

In the first hospital video, Trump says he feels “a lot better”, but the next few days will be “the real test” (Forbes)

Trump has experienced two episodes of ‘oxygen dips’ since coronavirus diagnosis (Forbes)

Trump: Doctors told him his ‘lungs are a little different’ because of Covid (Forbes)

How sick is Trump? The White House offers conflicting messages. (Forbes)

White House outbreak: Donald Trump Jr. latest to test positive (Forbes)

Trump released from hospital, but doctors remain unclear on medical specifics (Forbes)

Trump Back in White House, Says ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ of Covid-19 Coronavirus, Is That Reasonable? (Forbes)

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