A photo of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has gone viral amid the president's coronavirus diagnosis. Taken by Reuters photographer Erin Scott and captured on Sunday, the image shows Meadows rubbing his head as Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, offered an update to reporters on the president’s health following his hospitalization.
Shared to Twitter by Corrine Perkins, the North America editor for Reuters Pictures, the image quickly drew attention, raking in nearly 28,000 likes and almost 9,000 retweets by Monday morning. The photo was also shared by ABC News in a post that gained almost 2,000 likes and more than 500 retweets. Both posts have also drawn plenty of comments.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows rubs his head as U.S. Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, speaks to the media about President Donald Trump's health. Photo by @erinscottphoto pic.twitter.com/zNfarjSLow— corinne_perkins (@corinne_perkins) October 4, 2020
Reacting to the image, Jonathan Lemire, an Associated Press reporter, wrote, "this photo tells at least 1,000 words about this weekend." Full Court Press host Greta Van Susteren said that Meadows "probably hasn’t slept since Thursday," while Michael Muscato, a congressional candidate, said, "this picture summarizes 2020." Several others pointed out that the image captured Meadows doing something the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against amid the pandemic: "touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands."
As The Hill notes, the image came amid a stressful weekend for Meadows, who found himself receiving criticism from the president after it was revealed that he was the source who divulged that Trump's vitals were "very concerning." Speaking with White House pool reporters just after Conley and other doctors finished their press briefing outside Walter Reed Medical Center, Meadows said that "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. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery."
That remark, which contradicted the White House physician's assessment, left Trump "infuriated," according to people close to the situation. A senior Trump advisor told CNN the president was "outraged" with Meadows over the "botched" messaging, which even reportedly prompted Trump to share a message on Twitter that he was "feeling well."
Meadows later walked back on his comments, telling Reuters Saturday evening that Trump was "doing very well" and was "up and about and asking for documents to view." In a statement to Fox News Monday morning, Meadows even said that he was "still optimistic" Trump will leave the medical facility sometime Monday, adding that he "continued to improve overnight and is ready to get back to a normal working schedule."