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Confused messages add to angst over Trump’s COVID condition

“We have spoken on several occasions this morning,” Meadows said. “I got the five or six things he gave me, like I do every morning. He sure wants to make sure we stay engaged.”

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Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, painted an equally rosy picture at lunchtime. “He worked hard,” McEnany told reporters. “We have to slow it down a bit.”

But something was missing: the president himself. The usually prolific tweeter had remained completely silent, raising doubts as to whether his illness was more serious than his advisers were suggesting.

Was the White House’s priority to provide Americans with accurate information or to try to protect Trump from embarrassment?

Many believed that a televised statement surely had to come any minute from Trump or White House doctor Sean Conley. But it never did.

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It wasn’t until 4 p.m. – 3 p.m. after Trump revealed his positive diagnosis – that Conley released a statement providing an update on Trump’s condition. The phrase “good humor” was there again, but so was a new, less comforting word: Trump was “tired.”

Conley also revealed that he gave Trump a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail made by pharmaceutical company Regeneron.

Suddenly, alarm bells started ringing. If the President’s symptoms were really only “mild,” why did his doctor give him this unproven drug? This was only through reports from outlets such as The New York Times that Americans learned that Trump had symptoms such as fever, nasal congestion, and cough.

Then the news began to leak: Trump was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center.

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The Trump administration said the move was due to “great caution.” But the image of a military helicopter landing on the White House lawn to transport the 74-year-old president to a nearby hospital seemed to tell a different story.

A tweet from Trump’s son Eric describing his father as a “true warrior” and saying: “I have never been so proud of someone and what they have had to endure.”

An 18-second video message from Trump in which he also provided no clarity.

“I think I’m doing great, but we’re going to make sure things go well,” he said.

A day that started with shock ended with confusion.

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Matthew Knott is the North American correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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