Newsletter: Questions over Trump’s condition

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Trump, and other doctors outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Trump, briefs reporters Sunday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

President Trump staged a drive-by visit to his supporters after doctors disclosed more serious symptoms than they had acknowledged earlier.


Questions Over Trump’s Condition

After a weekend of contradictory accounts by doctors and White House officials, as well as photo ops seeking to project strength, many questions remain surrounding the severity of President Trump’s illness and its progression after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.


On Sunday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley provided several significant new pieces of information about the 74-year-old president, saying Trump had experienced a “high fever” Friday morning and had received supplemental oxygen for about an hour before being transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center later that day.

He disclosed that Trump’s oxygen level had fallen again on Saturday to the point that supplemental oxygen was again required, and that scans of his lungs showed some indications of damage, although he insisted they were not of “major clinical concern.”

Significantly, Conley said the president had been given dexamethasone, a steroid, in addition to remdesivir and an experimental antibody therapy. Doctors prescribe dexamethasone for COVID-19 patients to combat lung damage caused by inflammation, which is one of the major ways the disease can kill patients. Experts had said previously that a decision to put Trump on the drug would be a major development.

Conley also acknowledged that he had omitted some information at Saturday’s briefing, saying he was “trying to reflect the upbeat attitude” of Trump and his aides.

Yet one of Trump’s physicians said Sunday that the president could be discharged from the military hospital in suburban Bethesda, Md., as soon as Monday.

After the White House released photos and videos of the president, Trump staged a brief motorcade outside the hospital on Sunday afternoon and could be seen through the window of his black SUV, masked and waving to supporters who gathered outside. The brief trip drew sharp criticism from medical experts who said Trump had endangered the Secret Service agents in the car with him.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign announced Sunday evening that he had tested negative for the virus. Biden had a similarly negative test on Friday.


President Trump waves from an SUV
An SUV carrying President Trump drives past supporters in a motorcade Sunday outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
(Alex Edelman / AFP via Getty Images)

More About the President’s Health

Tracing the path of COVID-19 to and from President Trump.

— The coronavirus waiting game: It can take days for symptoms to appear and longer for severe illness.

— News analysis: A history of falsehoods comes back to haunt the COVID-stricken president.

— In California’s Trump Country, supporters have struggled to process the fact that the president has the disease.

First Monday in October

Like much of Washington, the Supreme Court is facing a month of unusual uncertainty as it opens a new term Monday.

Within weeks, it is set to hear cases on healthcare and religion that may give a preview of how the conservative majority will wield its power. Moreover, the justices will wait to see if a new justice is confirmed, whether Trump is reelected and whether they are called upon to decide any disputes that arise if the election is very close.

Either way, the term’s initial cases will be heard by a court with a conservative majority — 6-3 if Trump’s choice, Amy Coney Barrett, has won confirmation or 5-3 if her nomination has stalled.

An early test is set to come a week after the election, when the justices take up the latest challenge to President Obama‘s Affordable Care Act.

An Unprecedented Wildfire Year

California’s biggest wildfire season has reached a new milestone, with officials announcing that the state has surpassed 4 million acres burned, more than double the previous record.

The fires this year have killed 31 people and burned an area larger than Connecticut, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Before this, 2018 was California’s biggest year for wildfires, with more than 1.8 million acres burned — though in 2018, more people died and more structures were destroyed.

More About the Fires

— Wildfire ravaged this rancher’s cattle and maybe his family legacy. He blames politics.

Track the progress of California’s wildfires with our map.

‘She Was Really a Warrior’

Mayela Villegas survived rape, kidnapping and assault to migrate from El Salvador to the U.S. and pursue her claim of asylum. As a 27-year-old transgender woman, she was also threatened by a migrant woman from Honduras vowing to gut her with a knife.

Villegas would enter the U.S. legally and settle with relatives in Houston. Seven months later, at the end of May, one of her friends messaged Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who had earlier documented her journey: Villegas was dead.

What happened? Hennessy-Fiske attempted to find out.


— “Examine your heart”: Healing from turmoil, Wisconsin voters have a message for America.

— In the L.A. County district attorney’s race, challenger George Gascón’s police career is under a microscope. (Over the weekend, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti switched his endorsement from Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to back Gascón.)

Honduran migrants hoping to make it to the United States are caught between economic despair and militarized crackdowns.

Hispanic Heritage Month gets justifiable criticism, but it’s still worth celebrating. Here’s why.

— Columnist Robin Abcarian pays tribute to her father, Richard Abcarian, who died after 91 years of joy, love and fighting for justice.


In 1944, the U.S. Navy built a pontoon bridge that was said to be a “six-month temporary emergency structure” linking downtown Long Beach with Terminal Island during World War II. Instead, it was used until the 1968 completion of the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

The bridge was unusual in that drivers had to navigate down across the bridge, which would fall and rise along with the tide.

“Speeding drivers occasionally flew out of control, crashing through a side wall and landing in the 50-foot-deep waters below. Bridge operator Toby Reed told The Times in 1966 that he had seen eight cars and a motorcycle go over the side,” Steve Harvey wrote in 2010. “‘That’s when we grab the life rings and hurl them into the channel,’ he said. Sometimes life rings weren’t enough. Seven would-be bridge crossers were believed to have drowned.”

On Monday, the shiny new replacement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge is expected to open to traffic.

A 1951 photo of the “six-month temporary” pontoon bridge that connected Long Beach and Terminal Island for 24 years.
(Los Angeles Times)

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— For the first time in state history, a ballot will make its way in the mail to every registered California voter. Most will arrive this week, though some counties began the process almost two weeks ago.

— The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Governing Board has voted to add South Los Angeles to a list of areas considered disproportionately affected by pollution and in need of assistance.

— A City of Long Beach flag was reportedly stolen from a secure construction area outside police headquarters and replaced with a campaign flag for Trump. Police say they’ve launched a criminal investigation.

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— Former Vice President Joe Biden is counting on Nevada in the election. Has the COVID-19 pandemic put the state in play?

— Voters awaiting results in some of the key presidential battleground states on election night should be prepared to keep waiting, thanks to obstacles that will slow the count for what is expected to be a crush of mailed-in ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

— The fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued over Nagorno-Karabakh, with Azerbaijan’s second-largest city coming under attack and Azerbaijan claiming to have seized a town and several villages.

— As COVID-19 spreads, India is trying to control the narrative by targeting journalists.


— On “Dancing With the Stars” and “One Day at a Time,” Justina Machado may be fall TV’s biggest star.

— The unconventional documentary “Dick Johnson Is Dead” will emotionally destroy you. Here’s why you should watch it anyway.

— “Everybody always says, ‘Do more skating videos.’ … I just do me, basically,” says Nathan Apodaca, the skateboarding, Fleetwood Mac-loving TikTok star.

This interview with Cher is many things. Cathartic isn’t one of them.


— Facing pressure to let theme parks such as Disneyland reopen amid the pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has delayed issuing new operating rules after industry leaders pushed back against his administration’s initial plans.

Tesla said it delivered a record 139,300 cars in the third quarter. For Tesla investors, that’s the good news. The bad news is that the company finds itself saddled with factory overcapacity.


— The Miami Heat won Game 3 of the NBA Finals to cut into the Lakers’ series lead and make it 2-1. A flurry of turnovers from the Lakers’ superstars contributed to the loss.

— The Rams improved to 3-1 with a tougher-than-expected victory over the New York Giants, while the Chargers fumbled a big lead and handed off a win to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Endorsements in the November election from The Times’ editorial board, which is separate from the newsroom.

— Los Angeles has had many reckonings with racism. Will The Times’ be any different? Readers give their views.


— NPR reports that two political appointees at the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America recently investigated one of the VOA’s most prominent journalists to make the case he was biased against Trump. (NPR)

President Woodrow Wilson downplayed the 1918 flu pandemic. The next year, he contracted the illness and became violently ill. (USA Today)


Carlos Almaraz was born in Mexico City and raised in L.A. He became a painter “whose expressionistic canvases of fiery car crashes found strange beauty in destruction and in L.A.’s indifferent, industrial landscapes,” Carolina A. Miranda writes. Though he died in 1989 at age 48 from AIDS-related complications, his paintings have remained vital to the ways in which Los Angeles sees itself. Now, Netflix is showing a new documentary about his life and work.

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