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President Donald Trump left the hospital minutes after tweeting that he was going to surprise supporters outside Walter Reed.

Wochit

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump returned to the White House on Monday, three days after he was hospitalized for coronavirus, in a made-for-television moment that was full of symbolism but also underscored lingering questions about the extent of the president’s illness.

Minutes after walking out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump stepped off Marine One, climbed the steps of the South Portico and – pointedly – removed his mask. Flanked by American flags, Trump gave several thumbs up and saluted as his helicopter took off and then entered the White House. It was not clear if he put his mask back on inside.

“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it,” Trump said in a video posted to his Twitter account Monday night, echoing a message he embraced earlier in the day that drew fire from critics who noted presidents receive the best care possible. “Get out there. Be careful. We have the best medicines in the world.” 

White House aides were eager for the images of a president triumphantly returning home after fighting the virus – a scene that could have implications for his reelection bid. But Trump’s medical team has provided scattered and inconsistent details about the president’s condition and it was unclear when he would resume his campaign. 

“Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!” Trump tweeted shortly before emerging from Walter Reed. “The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls.”

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Trump has received around-the-clock care at Walter Reed and therapies not widely available to most patients experiencing mild symptoms. And so the president drew criticism from some for suggesting, as he did a tweet Monday, that Americans should not “be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” 

More than 210,000 Americans have died from the virus. 

“COVID-19 is something that is killing a lot of people. And it’s definitely a threat to people’s overall health. Even if people don’t die, many of them have serious side effect, perhaps long-lasting ones,” said Dr. Otto Yang, a professor of infectious disease at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I think it’s up to the individual to judge if that’s something to be afraid of or not.”

Trump’s departure from the hospital, which his doctors presaged a day earier, came with fanfare from the White House about the president’s recovery but also uncertainty from medical experts and critics about how serious his case of COVID is, and how much it will affect his presidential duties and campaign. 

Calm: Doctors say Trump is improving while hospitalized; aides project image of calm

ICYMI: What you may have missed from Trump’s weekend at Walter Reed hospital

Several aides posted social media messages Monday suggesting the president had “defeated” the virus. Hogan Gidley, a Trump campaign spokesman, posted a GIF of Trump