White House communications director Alyssa Farah said Sunday that White House physician Sean Conley withheld specific details at Saturday's press briefing about Donald Trump's medical condition in order to "convey confidence" and "raise the spirits" of the president.

Driving the news: Conley and the White House have come under intense criticism after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows provided an anonymous statement to reporters on Saturday saying that Trump had a "very concerning" period on Friday, contradicting the more rosy assessment Conley had provided in a television briefing just moments earlier.

  • Pressed by Axios' Alayna Treene at a briefing earlier on Sunday, Conley said he was "trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had."
  • "I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true," Conley added.

What she's saying: Farah appeared to echoed Conley's statement, telling Fox News that it is "a common medical practice that you want to convey confidence, and you want to raise the spirits of the person you’re treating."

  • "I know this president, I don’t know that he needs his spirits raised, but I think actually it’s a very common medical practice to do that. So if anything, the doctor was giving a really strong and confident viewpoint," Farah said
  • "We’re committed to being transparent with the public, but what I’ve learned in these moments is that accuracy is in fact more important than speed."
  • “We’d rather get you the fully accurate, full-picture information, rather than rush out the door with facts when we don’t necessarily have all of that."

Farah later told reporters that Meadows' anonymous statement contradicting Conley was intended to "give you guys more information just to try to be as transparent as we can."

The bottom line: Conley admitted Sunday that Trump experienced two "transient" episodes in which his oxygen saturation level dropped below 94% and that he received supplemental oxygen on Friday after registering a "high fever."

  • Conley added that following a drop in oxygen levels on Saturday, Trump is now receiving dexamethasone — a steroid that has been found to significantly reduce the risk of death among patients who are on a ventilator and provide more limited benefit for patients who are on supplemental oxygen.
  • Overall, the president's condition has "continued to improve," Conley said.

Go deeper: The media’s 2020 moment

Go deeper

The pandemic is getting worse again

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Due to a database error, Missouri had a 3 day gap in reporting from Oct. 11-13; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Every available piece of data proves it: The coronavirus pandemic is getting worse again, all across America.

The big picture: As the death toll ticks past 212,000, at a moment when containing the virus ought to be easier and more urgent than ever, we are instead giving it a bigger foothold to grow from.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
23 hours ago - Health

Many U.S. coronavirus deaths were avoidable

Data: National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

If the U.S. death rate had matched that of other wealthy countries, between about 55,000 and 215,000 Americans would still be alive, according to a scathing new analysis by Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Why it matters: These countries have taken a significantly different approach to the virus than the U.S., providing yet another example that things didn't have to be this way.

Updated 18 hours ago - World

France becomes 2nd Western European country to top 1M coronavirus cases

French President Emmanuel Macron at the Seine Saint Denis prefecture headquarters in Paris, on Tuesday. Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

France has become the second country in Western Europe to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, Johns Hopkins University data shows

The big picture: France had reported 1,000,369 cases and 34,075 deaths from the coronavirus by Thursday morning, per JHU. French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of health emergency and imposed a curfew on virus hot spots earlier this month. Spain on Wednesday became the first Western European nation to top 1 million cases.