On Monday afternoon, President Trump tweeted that he would be returning to the White House after three days at Walter Reed hospital, telling people not to be "afraid of Covid." Dr. Uché Blackstock, a Yahoo News medical contributor and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, breaks down Monday's press conference with the president's physicians, and explains how Trump has access to a level of health care unavailable to most Americans — enabling him to continue treatment in the comfort of the White House.
DR. UCHE BLACKSTOCK: The president tweeted that he'll be leaving Walter Reed and not to be afraid of coronavirus and that under his administration, we've developed some really effective therapeutics to fight COVID-19, which is great. And I'm glad that he's doing better, but at the same time, he is speaking from a very privileged position.
DR. SEAN CONLEY: 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. UCHE BLACKSTOCK: What's important to keep in mind is that he is not just going home. He's going to the medical unit at the White House. While he has had the opportunity to receive 24/7 around-the-clock care and a variety of specialized, experimental, and improved medication, that's not the case for the majority of Americans.
He'll be continuing his course of remdesivir and also dexamethasone. He's going to be monitored. His oxygen levels, all his vital signs. And essentially, people who have had the same symptoms and same course as he has had would probably have remained in a hospital, and not have left at this point in their hospitalization. Because they don't have the privilege or the luxury of having a hospital at their home.
- So you're actively not telling us what those lung scans show, just to be clear.
DR. SEAN CONLEY: So there are HIPAA rules and regulations that restrict me in sharing certain things.
DR. UCHE BLACKSTOCK: So the reporter was asking about what his X-rays look like and if he had any signs of pneumonia in the chest X-ray, and his physician basically invoked HIPAA, which is saying that it was his own personal information. It was private. He couldn't give that out. But we've also found out about his symptoms, other signs, other medications he's received, given that the president is a public figure and increased transparency is incredibly important.
And why the X-ray finding is important is because if he has this low oxygen level, and the X-rays show COVID pneumonia, that would be important to know in terms of his prognosis for recovering.
DR. SEAN CONLEY: As far as travel goes, we'll see.
DR. UCHE BLACKSTOCK: It would be incredibly unwise for him to be traveling. This is a person who has low oxygen levels. About two days ago, he was on supplemental oxygen. He's 74 years old. We can't forget that. And then also he is putting others at risk by traveling.
And so I would say even though I understand that we are in campaign season, it would be for the safety of himself and for others if he stayed in the White House.
So it's important just to acknowledge that he's not yet out of the woods. It's usually around this time that we see a deterioration actually in patients' health status when they have COVID-19. And so it really remains to be seen over the next few days how he does.