On October 11, President Trump’s physician issued his daily update on the president’s recovery from COVID-19. Dr. Conley issued his formal written update to Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who shared it on social media as she has been doing for several days. The assessment is pretty straightforward:
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 11, 2020
As Dr. Conley notes, the president is following the CDC guidance on recovery. In cases with mild to moderate symptoms, the CDC states that a patient can stop quarantining 10 days after symptom onset if he has been fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication. The president appeared with Dr. Marc Siegel on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Friday and said he had completed all of his COVID related medication and had taken none that day.
Conley states, “the assortment of advanced diagnostic tests obtained reveal there is no longer actively replicating virus.” Virus particles that can’t replicate can’t infect others.
Dr. Conley also mentioned cycle thresholds for sequential testing. A cycle threshold of a PCR test is the number of times the sample is amplified to detect the RNA particles. The higher the number of cycles, the lower the amount of virus in the body. According to a New York Times report, anything above 30 to 35 cycles is not likely infectious. Other research suggests 34 as the cutoff.
Incredibly, the Associated Press decided to ignore everything Dr. Conley said, all available research, and the CDC guidelines to assert the following:
But sensitive lab tests — like the PCR test cited in the doctor’s statements — detect virus in swab samples taken from the nose and throat. Some medical experts had been skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early in the course of his illness. Just 10 days since an initial diagnosis of infection, there was no way to know for certain that someone was no longer contagious, they said.
That does not appear to be what their quoted experts said at all. One acknowledged the CDC guidelines and speculated about facts not in evidence:
As Trump returned to the public stage, Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist and department chairman at the Yale School of Public Health, said that the White House appeared to be following CDC guidelines for when it is appropriate to end isolation after mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. But Ko cautioned that those who have had severe cases of the diseases should isolate for 20 days.
He noted that Trump was treated with the steroid dexamethasone, which is normally reserved for patients with severe COVID. Ko added that White House had issued “convoluted” statements about Trump’s health that left many questions unanswered, including whether the president ever had pneumonia.
The president also received an antibody therapy that had not been made available to the general public. Given his age and risk factors, he was likely to have been monitored for inflammatory markers in his bloodwork. There are several that can be measured, and these are linked to having a more serious reaction to COVID-19. If these had started to rise, administering the dexamethasone would have been an appropriate response.
In his Friday appearance, President Trump admitted he did not want to go to the hospital, but credited listening to his doctors and getting treatment early with his quick recovery. He also did two commercial-free radio hours with Rush Limbaugh on Friday without so much as clearing his throat. This would be highly unusual in someone recovering from pneumonia. Joe Biden has coughed more in public this week that President Trump has.
The AP’s other expert had this to say:
Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University, said the tight time frame laid out by the White House made it appear that “they’re really just pushing to get him out of isolation” and back to campaigning.
Actually, it appears they are following the CDC guidelines given to the general public and doing appropriate testing to confirm their assertions. Note, neither expert said it was likely the president was still infectious, contrary to the reporting.
Interestingly, no one is questioning Joe Biden’s campaign schedule. He is being tested because the president tested positive two days after the debate. If Biden believes he could have been exposed, he should have been in his basement for the last 10 days, not campaigning in Nevada. At least that is what the CDC says.
So, Trump’s doctors follow the CDC advice and get questioned, but the Biden campaign can claim a potential exposure and hit the road against CDC guidelines. And the media is still confused about why no one trusts them.