Former President Donald Trump was much sicker with COVID-19 than the public was led to believe in October. Those familiar with Trump’s health told the New York Times Trump had “extremely depressed blood oxygen levels” and pneumonia caused by COVID-19. The then-president was very close to being put on a ventilator, according to two people near Trump during this time.

Trump had lung infiltrates, which inflamed him lungs, likely caused by bacteria or fluid in the lungs. Trump’s blood oxygen level dipped below 80 in his most severe state. COVID-19 cases are considered life-threatening when below 90.

While the White House initially reported that Trump was having trouble breathing and a fever on October 2, the treatments he received at Walter Reed Medical Center indicated that his case of COVID-19 was particularly severe.

Two people close to Trump also told the Times that the then-president vehemently resisted going to Walter Reed Medical Center. He finally relented when faced with the choice of walking out on his own, or being carried out by the Secret Service.

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Once at Walter Reed, Trump’s medical team made various press appearances saying the then-president’s condition was getting better. Behind closed doors, Trump was receiving extremely aggressive treatment. Dr. Sean P. Conley, Trump’s physician, downplayed Trump’s pneumonia saying they were “expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern.” Conley did not mention Trump’s lung infiltrates, which indicated his case was acutely severe. Dr. Conley further misled reporters by saying Trump’s oxygen level has dropped to 93 and it had never dropped into the “low 80s,” when in reality, Trump’s oxygen had dropped below 80.

When confronted, Dr. Conley later admitted Trump was given supplementary oxygen twice while still at the White House. Trump was also taking an antibody cocktail of drugs developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals at the same time.

At Walter Reed, Trump was given a stream of dexamethasone, which is a steroid reserved for people with critical, and severe cases of COVID-19. In a move which further indicated the severity of the case, he also took a five-day course of remdesivir, an antiviral drug for those with significant lung issues.

In a subsequent news conference, Dr. Conley showed data in the form of a spirometry test to show that Trump’s COVID-19 case was improving. Medical experts, however, say spirometry tests are worthless in determining COVID-19 recovery.

Even after discharge from Walter Reed, Trump was seen using his neck muscles to help his breathing, which doctors explain is a tell-tale sign that someone’s lungs are not in-taking properly.

Dr. Conley later admitted that his coverage of Trump’s condition was uncharacteristically upbeat. “I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had,” he 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.”

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