By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s announcement he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 “is a sobering reminder of our shared vulnerability, but also our common responsibility for the good of one another,” Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich tweeted Oct. 2.
“As we continue to pray for the full recovery of all those suffering from COVID-19, we now include President and Mrs. Trump & all those recently diagnosed,” the cardinal said.
The president tweeted the news just before 1 a.m. Oct. 2. A few hours before he and former President Joe Biden had addressed the 75th annual Al Smith dinner via recorded video remarks.
The fundraiser of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation each year brings together political candidates on opposite sides of the aisle — including the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees every four years — to face off and trade barbs in good humor. This year, because of the coronavirus the speakers’ dais was virtual due to the coronavirus and remarks took a more serious tone.
The event was livestreamed from the Manhattan residence of Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, who as New York’s archbishop is chair of the foundation and presides over the dinner.
“Thanks to our honored speakers, President @realDonaldTrump and former Vice President @JoeBiden, for virtually joining us last night for the Al Smith Dinner. Please also join me in praying for the President, @FLOTUS Melania Trump, & all who suffer from or are affected by Covid-19.”
Late Oct. 2 President Trump was flown by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center just outside Washington in Bethesda, Maryland, for a few days out of “an abundance of caution,” the White House said, adding the 74-year-old president was experiencing “mild symptoms.”
Trump will be working from the hospital’s presidential offices and receiving a drug regimen to treat the virus.
Among other Catholic bishops tweeting prayers for the Trumps and all those with COVID-19 were Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, and Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island.
“Remember to pray for @POTUS and @FLOTUS and their swift recovery from #COVID19 and for the peace and good health of all in our country,” Bishop Olson said.
“Praying today for the health of President Trump and the First Lady, and for all who are battling COVID. May God grant healing, comfort and peace to his people,” Bishop Tobin said.
Dr. Michael Parker, president of the Catholic Medical Association, was among others issuing a statement about the Trumps: “Our prayers are with the president and first lady as they work to overcome COVID-19. We continue to pray for all those suffering from this virus and their loved ones.”
In an 18-second video filmed at the White House and tweeted after he arrived at Walter Reed, President Trump said: “I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I’m going to Walter Reed hospital. I think I’m doing very well but we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much. I appreciate it. I will never forget it.”
Dr. Sean P. Conley, a Navy commander and physician to the president, said in a memo released late Oct. 2 said that in consultation with Walter Reed and Johns Hopkins University, recommended the 74-year-old president be taken to Walter Reed “for further monitoring.”
“This evening I am happy to report the president is doing very well. He is not requiring any supplemental oxygen, but in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate Remdesivir therapy. He has completed his first dose and is resting comfortably.”
Remdesivir is an antiviral drug. Trump also is being given Regeneron’s antibody medication, along with zinc and vitamin D; famotidine, the medication in Pepcid, for heartburn or acid reflux; and melatonin and a daily aspirin.
This drug regimen “is best done in a hospital setting,” than at the White House, Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former presidential physician, said in interviews early Oct. 3.
Conley in an earlier memo reported the president was “fatigued but in good spirits.”
“The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions,” he said. “Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”