Then-President Donald Trump’s blood oxygen level dipped down to a “dangerously low level” hours after he announced back in October 2020 that he tested positive for Covid-19, according to his former chief of staff Mark Meadows.
In a new book about his time working in the White House, Meadows says that on the morning of October, 2, 2020, Trump’s oxygen levels had plummeted to about 86%, prompting the White House physician Dr. Sean Conley to recommend the President be moved to the hospital.
The previously undisclosed details from Meadows reveal how much more serious Trump’s diagnosis with Covid-19 was than what Trump’s medical team was sharing with the public at the time.
“That morning, Dr. Conley pulled me aside and delivered some bad news. Although the president’s condition had improved slightly overnight, his oxygen levels had now dipped down to about 86 percent and could be trending lower, a dangerously low level for someone his age,” Meadows wrote in his book “The Chief’s Chief” which was published Tuesday.
CNN has reached out to Trump for comment. Conley has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
The New York Times was the first to report on the new details from Meadows’ book. They also reported in February that Trump was sicker with Covid-19 than originally reported with “extremely depressed blood oxygen levels at one point.”
Trump announced his positive diagnosis just before 1 a.m. the morning of October 2. Later that night, Trump emerged from the White House to be flown out to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment, walking on his own to the helicopter and waving to the media.
During a press conference that weekend, Conley said that the President had a high fever the morning of October 2 and that his “oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94%.” A normal blood oxygen saturation level is 95% or higher.
Recalling the morning of October 2, Meadows wrote in his book that Conley and doctors from Walter Reed and Johns Hopkins decided to put the President on oxygen at the White House residence “and hope for the best,” but Conley later informed Meadows that they needed to get Trump to Walter Reed “‘soon, in case he takes a turn for the worst.’”
When Meadows went to tell the President, he found Trump “sitting up in bed in his T-shirt, and it didn’t look like he was going anywhere.”
“It was the first time I had seen him in anything other than a golf shirt or a suit jacket,” Meadows wrote, adding that Trump acted like it was any other day and tried to work.
“The red streaks in the president’s eyes hadn’t gone away, and his hair was a mess from the hours he’d spent getting Regeneron in bed,” he wrote. Meadows said he had arranged for four doses of the monoclonal antibody drug to be sent to the White House in secret and got approval from the FDA for the President to receive the treatment (ahead of the FDA’s emergency use authorization of the drug).
Trump initially resisted being taken to the hospital but relented when Meadows told him that “it’s better that you walk out of here today under your own strength, your own power, than for me to have to carry you out on a gurney in two days.”
When he went to walk to the helicopter that would transport him to Walter Reed, Trump could not hold a briefcase, the weight of which was” too much for him,” according to Meadows.
“He looked at me, almost surprised he had to put it down. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘I-I just can’t carry that out there,’” Meadows wrote.
Meadows also revealed in his book that Trump had tested positive for Covid-19 on September 26, 2020 – three days ahead of Trump’s first 2020 presidential debate with then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump tested negative shortly thereafter using a rapid test, according to Meadows. He continued to attend events at the White House, hold meetings, and travel between that time, doing rallies and fundraisers.
On the night of his first head-to-head against Biden, Trump arrived too late to be tested ahead of the debate, according to Fox News’ anchor and the debate’s moderator Chris Wallace.
Meadows wrote that “we’ll probably never know whether President Trump was positive that evening.”
Trump denied Meadows’ account last week, saying in a statement that “the story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate.”
CNN’s Gabby Orr contributed to this report.