Trump says he feels better, but his chief of staff says he is ‘still not on a clear path to a full recovery.’

By Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker

President Trump’s vital signs were “very concerning” over the last day and he is not out of danger, the White House chief of staff said on Saturday, contradicting a rosier picture painted by the president’s doctors on television just minutes before.

And in a four-minute video posted to Twitter on Saturday evening, Mr. Trump said he was “starting to feel good,” but added that the severity of his case would probably become apparent over the coming days. The video, meant to reassure the nation, showed him sitting at a conference table at the hospital and wearing a suit jacket but no tie.

“You don’t know, over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test,” he said. “So we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”

Mr. Trump said he “wasn’t feeling so well” when he arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but said “I feel much better now” and that he expected to return to work shortly.

The White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, said later Saturday night that the president had made “substantial progress since diagnosis.” Mr. Trump was “fever-free and off supplemental oxygen,” Dr. Conley said after he had declined earlier on Saturday to say whether the president had been on oxygen at any point since being diagnosed with Covid-19.

“While not yet out of the woods,” Dr. Conley said, “the team remains cautiously optimistic.”

While the president’s doctors had maintained earlier Saturday that Mr. Trump was “doing very well” and in “exceptionally good spirits” after his first night in the hospital with the coronavirus, Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, provided a more sober assessment and warned that the next two days would be pivotal in determining the outcome of the illness.

“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Mr. Meadows told reporters outside Walter Reed, where the president was flown on Friday evening and will remain for at least a few days. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

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