President Donald Trump's doctor, Sean Conley, raised questions about when the president was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday in a press conference outside of Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Conley gave an update on the president's condition, saying that they are now "72 hours into the diagnosis." Many commenters noted that this would mean Trump had been diagnosed on Wednesday, not Thursday as previously reported.
Conley gave an optimistic outlook on Trump's condition on Saturday on the front steps of the hospital. However, he and the other doctors assembled also avoided certain questions, or else flatly refused to answer them. In the aftermath, analysts dissected his words — including his claim that Trump was "72 hours into" his coronavirus diagnosis. Many took this to mean that Trump was diagnosed with the virus two days before he revealed the news on Twitter. They questioned the ethics of withholding that information from the public for that long, especially this close to the 2020 presidential election.
And this correction spells Regeneron wrong.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 3, 2020
A few hours later, Conley issued a new public statement claiming that his "72 hours" remark was a mistake, and that "the president was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on the evening of Thursday, October 1st and had received Regeron's (sic) antibody cocktail on Friday, October 2nd."
Analysts noted that Conley was not the only doctor to reference an earlier diagnosis, yet he remains the only one to issue a retraction. Additionally, many pointed out that "Regeneron" is misspelled in his statement, and that his statement is not signed.
Trump flew to Minnesota on Wednesday, attending a crowded event in Minneapolis that evening. The next day he flew to New Jersey for an event with campaign donors, so if Trump had been diagnosed on Wednesday he would have put lots of people at risk before finally entering isolation. There have already been several outbreaks in Trump's personal circle, including a Republican senator, an RNC official and members of his staff.
Additionally, at least 11 staff members from the debate venue in Cleveland, Ohio have tested positive for COVID-19 since the event on Tuesday, raising fears that Trump or someone in his entourage was spreading the virus there. Trump and his staff were not tested upon arrival, according to moderator Chris Wallace, because they showed up just hours before the debate started.
At the time of this writing, Trump remains in the hospital with no release date specified yet. Official statements from his doctors and the White House indicate that his condition is improving.