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Trump's medical team says he could be discharged from Walter Reed as soon as Monday

President Donald Trump has “improved,” according to White House physician Sean Conley, but experienced significant oxygen drops on Friday and Saturday. His doctors said he has had no fever since Friday morning and could be discharged as early as Monday.

Conley declined to answer questions about the president’s lungs, including whether there is scarring or whether Trump has pneumonia.

At a news briefing Sunday morning, Conley publicly acknowledged for the first time that the president was administered supplemental oxygen on Friday at the White House and had a “high” fever at the time.

Conley also said that the president’s oxygen level dropped Saturday for a period but that he wasn’t sure whether Trump was given supplemental oxygen a second time.

“I’d have to check with the nursing staff,” Conley told reporters outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. “I don’t think that — if he did, it was very, very limited. … And the only oxygen that I ordered, or that we provided, was that Friday morning, initially.”

Asked about his reluctance to disclose to the public on Saturday that Trump had been on oxygen, Conley said he had been trying not to cause alarm.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, over his course of illness, has had,” the physician said. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. … The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”

Another doctor on the team, Brian Garibaldi, said Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed as soon as Monday if he continues to do well.

Trump’s doctors knew Saturday — and declined to tell reporters — that the president had been given supplemental oxygen the previous day. But White House communications director Alyssa Farah suggested Sunday that the doctors did not inform the public because they did not have the information.

In a Fox News interview Sunday afternoon, Farah said the doctors were initially hesitant because accuracy is more important than speed. When host Trace Gallagher pointed out that the doctors had the information but chose not to release it, Farah changed course.

“It’s a very — it’s a common medical practice that you want to convey confidence. . . . I know this president. I don’t know that he needs his spirits raised, but it’s actually a very common medical practice,” she said.

Earlier Sunday, at a briefing outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Conley, Trump’s doctor, said that in not initially disclosing that Trump had been on supplemental oxygen, he was “trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, over his course of illness, has had.”

“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true,” Conley said.

Farah on Sunday also disputed reports that Trump is angry with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for telling reporters his condition was concerning.

“No, absolutely not. Mark Meadows has barely left the president’s side,” Farah said. She added: “Honestly, if anything, I think the chief of staff’s comments reflect how close their relationship is. . . . They couldn’t be closer, working together throughout this.”

Trump said in a video posted Saturday night that he is feeling “much better now” and expects to “be back soon” after being hospitalized with the coronavirus. In a memorandum released by the White House, Trump’s physician said the president has made “substantial progress” and will be closely monitored Sunday in between doses of the experimental drug, remdesivir.

The statements of optimism came after aides and doctors created confusion about Trump’s health status and the timeline of his treatment and diagnosis, injecting a degree of uncertainty into the nation’s understanding of the president’s condition and who may have been exposed.

“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,” Meadows, said Saturday afternoon. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

Meadows later told Fox News that the next two days could be “tough,” but underscored the president’s improvement since Friday.

Joe Biden’s campaign said it will disclose the result of every coronavirus test the candidate takes, following increased pressure for more transparency.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for the first presidential debate and is now infected with the coronavirus, said Saturday night that he has gone to a hospital as a “precautionary measure.”

The steroid that Trump’s physicians say they administered to the president on Saturday is typically reserved only for severely ill coronavirus patients and may pose dangers for people with relatively mild cases.

Recent research showed that the drug, dexamethasone, reduced the risk of death by about a third for patients on ventilators and by a fifth for those who receive supplemental oxygen, as Trump did. The drug has not been shown to help less sick patients and could have negative effects if administered too early because of the way it suppresses the immune system.

In treatment guidelines, the National Institutes of Health recommends against using dexamethasone in patients who do not require supplemental oxygen.

Mortality rates were “lower among patients who were randomized to receive dexamethasone than among those who received the standard of care,” according to the NIH. “This benefit was observed in patients who required supplemental oxygen at enrollment. No benefit of dexamethasone was seen in patients who did not require supplemental oxygen at enrollment.”

The World Health Organization reached a similar conclusion in September, saying the drug should be given only to patients with “severe and critical” cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“We suggest not to use corticosteroids in the treatment of patients with non-severe COVID-19 as the treatment brought no benefits, and could even prove harmful,” the WHO’s guidelines read.

Conley said in Sunday morning’s news conference that Trump was given dexamethasone Saturday after his blood-oxygen levels dropped.

The inexpensive, widely available drug was the first medication shown to increase people’s chances of surviving COVID-19 after a team from the University of Oxford released a report in June examining its effects on more than 2,000 severely ill patients.

Also this weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., both said the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett will begin Oct. 12, even though some senators on the committee have the coronavirus.

A majority of Americans — 72% — say Trump has not taken the risk of contracting the coronavirus seriously enough, according to an ABC News-Ipsos poll released Sunday.

The poll, conducted Friday and Saturday after Trump disclosed his positive test result, found that an equal portion of respondents said the president didn’t take the appropriate precautions when it came to his health.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said Trump had taken the risk of infection seriously enough and took the appropriate health precautions, according to the poll.

Trump remains hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he arrived Friday evening. For months before he fell ill, Trump downplayed the severity of the virus and mocked the wearing of masks, ridiculing Biden in last week’s debate for covering his mouth and nose in public.

The poll involved 506 general population adults older than 18 who made up a “nationally representative probability sample,” according to ABC News-Ipsos. It had a margin of error of five points.

Respondents were split down the middle on whether Trump’s infection will prevent him from effectively handling his duties as president if faced with a military or national security crisis.

Overall, Americans’ attitudes about Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic remained essentially unchanged since mid-September, the poll found, with 35% of respondents approving and 64% disapproving.

But the number of respondents who said they were concerned that they or someone they knew would be infected jumped from 72% to 81% in roughly the same period, according to the poll. Nineteen percent of respondents said they weren’t concerned about contracting the virus, the poll found, compared with 28% in mid-September.

Senior Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes said Sunday that campaign staff spoke to Trump by telephone on Saturday and that the president was “as upbeat and assertive as he’s ever been.”

“This president is going to recover. We are highly confident of that,” Cortes said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Cortes also said the campaign will continue apace while Trump is sidelined.

“We think it’s important that our campaign vigorously proceed,” he said. “The MAGA movement is bigger than just President Trump. He’s instrumental, of course, but he’s not the only key element of the MAGA movement.” MAGA refers to “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s campaign slogan.

In the president’s absence, Cortes said, other surrogates, including Vice President Mike Pence, “and millions of Americans need to step up and, to some degree, fill the void that is left because our champion, our main instrument, is not able at this moment to vigorously campaign and certainly campaign physically right now at all.”

Cortes said Pence “is going to continue to campaign, of course with an abundance of caution. That was already in place, but even more so now.”

Senior Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders said Sunday that the Democratic presidential nominee is planning to attend the next debate and hopes Trump, who has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, will be able to participate, although she noted that the decision will be up to the president’s doctors.

“We are looking forward to the debate on October 15 in Miami,” Sanders said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” She added: “We are hoping that President Trump can participate. We are hoping he is medically able to participate.”

Sanders said the Biden campaign extends its thoughts and prayers to the president and hopes he makes a quick recovery. Neither the White House nor the Trump campaign has been in touch with the Biden team after Trump’s diagnosis, Sanders said, although she also maintained that the former vice president “was not exposed” since he remained more than six feet away from Trump during last week’s presidential debate in Cleveland.

“Vice President Biden has tested negative. Our traveling staff has tested negative,” Sanders said. She added that Biden is “being tested regularly” and will be tested again today.

In an interview on ABC News’s “This Week,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said the campaign hopes the Commission on Presidential Debates is “going to put in place every adjustment necessary to ensure that it’s fully safe” at the next presidential debate.

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said Sunday that he spoke with the president “for a half-hour yesterday” and that he “sounded pretty good.”

“He said he was getting back on his feet; he was cracking jokes” and asking about the campaign, Miller said on “This Week.”

Miller emphasized that Trump is “personally” going to defeat the coronavirus, “as is our country.” He said he and the president are urging Americans to “be careful — make sure people are washing their hands, wearing a mask.”

The Trump adviser said he disagreed with the new ABC News-Ipsos poll showing that 72% of respondents believe Trump did not take the risk of contracting the virus seriously enough and did not take necessary precautions. Trump “had to take this head on,” Miller said.

“He had to get out there, not just as the leader of the country, but of the free world,” Miller added. “He couldn’t just stay upstairs, hidden.”

When host George Stephanopoulos said that Trump “didn’t have to hold rallies” or “mock Biden for wearing masks,” Miller countered that Trump “is one of the most tested people in the entire country” and that “there’s a lot we still don’t know about the virus.”

“He hasn’t been cavalier at all,” Miller said of Trump.

Meanwhile, Nick Luna, Trump’s personal assistant, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a senior administration official. News of Luna’s diagnosis was first reported Saturday night by Bloomberg News.

At least two White House residence staffers contracted the virus some weeks ago and were sent home. Administration officials do not believe those staffers directly gave the virus to the president, given the passage of time since their cases.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Sunday that Democrats are “absolutely not” seizing on the coronavirus outbreak among Trump and other top Republicans in an effort to block the confirmation of Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was asked about the battle over Barrett’s confirmation during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Host Chris Wallace noted that two Republicans on the Senate panel — Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in recent days.

“Are Democrats going to try to use this as a way to delay the confirmation hearing and the confirmation vote on Judge Barrett?” Wallace asked.

“It’s not a matter of using it, Chris,” Klobuchar replied. “It happened. And the first thing we know is that if you look at the precedent that Mitch McConnell set, we should let the people decide. . . . Secondly, we’ve got the fact that now three senators have it. As you point out, two are on the Judiciary Committee. And Mitch McConnell has shut the Senate down for two weeks because of health concerns, because we don’t know how many other Republican senators had it.”

Klobuchar noted that “it’s very possible we’re going to have more senators, more staff” test positive in the days ahead, given that Republicans often “have a lunch together where they don’t have masks.”

“So, I don’t know why you would ram through this Supreme Court hearing, put people in danger. . . . I just think it’s wrong. We are suggesting that we wait,” she said.

Wallace noted that the Senate and the House have held virtual hearings in recent months and that the same could be done in Barrett’s case. He asked, again, whether Democrats are simply seeking to delay the confirmation.

“Absolutely not,” Klobuchar replied. “This is for the highest court of the land. . . . We believe you should have an in-person hearing.”

The Minnesota Democrat also noted that Congress has yet to pass a new round of coronavirus relief funding.

“Why would you ram this through when we don’t even have a COVID package done to make sure that people have health care, that we have the testing I just talked about, that we have the funding for that? . . . Why would we be doing this instead of actually . . . helping the American people?” she asked.

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The Washington Post’s Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.

Pet blessing recognizes importance of furry friends

HUNTINGTON — A pet blessing took place Sunday afternoon in the pavilion behind Christ the King Lutheran Church, 5700 US Route 60 E, Huntington.

Humans were required to wear a mask and physically distance from others, and pets had to be caged, leashed or otherwise controlled for safety.

“I just think that it’s so important if you have a pet of any kind that we honor that relationship and that we give you some good feelings that you don’t get to have with the people you’re usually with,” said Pastor Carl Ames of Christ the King Lutheran Church. “Lutherans, like most church people, love meals; and we can’t do meals! You can’t hug, we don’t sing. It’s nice, you can see how all the people love their pets.”

It was the first pet blessing event for Pastor Shannon Blosser of Pea Ridge United Methodist.

“This is the first time that I have been a part of something like this,” he said. “It’s a newer, more modern ministry to recognize that God’s creation is not just for us, but for all of creation. The animals, the trees, the plants.”

Ride with Cops raises money for children's party

HUNTINGTON — Ride with the Cops 18 had a different look this year, but the need to raise money for about 300 children for the annual Christmas party remains.

“Instead of having the Ride with the Cops gathering like we do, we decided to do what’s called a poker run, which spreads everything out over five places,” said Blue Knights’ spokesperson Johnny Evans. “We normally start here at Buddy’s and ride throughout the Tri-State area through Kentucky and Ohio before we get back here for a big cookout for everybody. Since we can’t do that, we just start here or any of the other checkpoints. Once everybody has their five locations, they just go home.”

The Blue Knights partner with the Fraternal Order of Police, Gold Star Lodge No. 65, to sponsor the annual party. It was unknown Sunday what the pandemic’s effects might have been on participation in the ride.

“We won’t know for sure, because we had some people register in advance as well as register here in person,” Evans said. “We hope that we get the participation that we normally have, but we won’t know for sure until afterward. We appreciate anybody that has helped, and we are sorry that we couldn’t do more for the kids, but we’re doing what we can. We do this every year, and we’re proud of what we can do for the kids.”

To find out how to donate to the children’s party, visit Blue Knights WV III on Facebook.

COVID-19 adds one to death toll

HUNTINGTON — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has confirmed one more death in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The death of an 81-year-old woman from Kanawha County increased the current state toll to 358.

“Our deepest condolences are extended at this time of grief,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary.

In West Virginia, 160 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Sunday, for a total of 16,628.

Cases per county are: Barbour (94), Berkeley (1,093), Boone (254), Braxton (13), Brooke (118), Cabell (894), Calhoun (27), Clay (37), Doddridge (32), Fayette (652), Gilmer (49), Grant (163), Greenbrier (133), Hampshire (111), Hancock (154), Hardy (96), Harrison (443), Jackson (291), Jefferson (451), Kanawha (2,874), Lewis (41), Lincoln (187), Logan (650), Marion (301), Marshall (185), Mason (147), McDowell (96), Mercer (438), Mineral (176), Mingo (398), Monongalia (2,099), Monroe (151), Morgan (62), Nicholas (124), Ohio (383), Pendleton (53), Pleasants (18), Pocahontas (60), Preston (161), Putnam (627), Raleigh (559), Randolph (269), Ritchie (13), Roane (56), Summers (59), Taylor (143), Tucker (42), Tyler (17), Upshur (117), Wayne (420), Webster (8), Wetzel (66), Wirt (12), Wood (382), Wyoming (129).

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department reported 366 active cases Sunday. The Wayne County Health Department reported 45 active cases Sunday.

Free COVID-19 testing is available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5, at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, 703 7th Ave.

Testing is available to everyone, including asymptomatic individuals. For upcoming testing locations, visit https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/pages/testing.aspx.

In Ohio, the Lawrence County Health Department reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with patients’ ages ranging from 11-81. Six people are hospitalized, with three in the ICU. The county has reported a total of 748 cases, with 104 active and 22 deaths. The county is monitoring 194 contacts.

Statewide, there were 158,907 cases as of 2 p.m. Sunday, with 4,925 deaths related to the virus.

In Kentucky, the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, for a total of 532. The new cases ranged in ages from 32 to 64, all isolating at home.

Statewide, there were 616 new cases reported, for a total of 72,617, and four new deaths, for a total of 1,209.

“This has not been a good week,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “The president of our nation, his wife and others in the White House — one of the most secure places in the entire world — have tested positive for COVID-19. Back home, Kentucky set yet another record high week for new cases for the second week in a row. We disregard this threat at our own peril.”

More than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across the U.S. on Sunday, for a total of 7,310,625, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been 208,118 deaths related to the virus.

The Associated Press reports that for most people, the novel coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the virus.