When Donald Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October, he was a lot sicker than officials were willing to disclose, the New York Times reports, citing "four people familiar with his condition." The sources say the then-president had blood oxygen levels in the 80s—well beyond the low-90s mark where the disease is considered severe—and a lung problem associated with pneumonia caused by COVID. The sources say before Trump was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center by helicopter, officials feared he would have to be put on a ventilator. CNN cites a source who also said there was discussion about putting the president on a ventilator.
According to the Times' sources, Trump didn't want to leave the White House and only agreed to be hospitalized when aides told him he might end up being carried out by the Secret Service if he didn't walk out while he was well enough to do so. As soon as Trump was diagnosed with COVID, White House officials scrambled to get the FDA to approve the then-unauthorized Regeneron antibody cocktail approved for use for two unnamed "senior administration officials," the sources say. Trump also received the steroid dexamethasone, normally only used for those with severe COVID cases. When he left the hospital after three days, Trump said, "Don't be afraid of COVID." Since then, the US death toll has risen from around 210,000 to 475,000. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)