Samuel Corum/Getty Images Supporters of President Donald Trump gather Sunday outside of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after the president was admitted for treatment of COVID-19.
His doctors might still have cause for concern and his critics might still be outraged and his poll numbers might still be dropping — but to the dozens of Donald Trump faithful who flocked to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, everything seemed like it was going to be fine.
Better than fine, actually. Great again.
Tracey Armah, a Black cashier from Bethesda, Maryland, sported American flags under both arms and did not wear a mask. “I’m here to support Donald Trump as president because I think he’s the best president ever,” she told PEOPLE.
“I can support who I want to support. It has nothing to do with race,” she said. “Just because you’re Black doesn’t mean you can’t like him.”
It was a familiar refrain among the Trump fans who made the trek the medical facility, which sits just a minutes-long helicopter ride north of the White House. The president, 74, was hospitalized at Walter Reed on Friday night after announcing he and First Lady Melania Trump were infected that morning.
His doctors, while admitting they were projecting optimism about his condition, said over the weekend that the president had had a fever and experienced two drops in his oxygen levels but was improving. On Monday the medical team said he could continue his treatment at home, though he was not “entirely out of the woods.”
Doctors declined to answer other questions, such as if Trump tested negative before attending various public events last week and whether he has shown signs of lung damage.
Outside Walter Reed a few hours before Trump’s discharge, supporters spoke glowingly of his performance in office and they spoke dismissively of the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S.
Like the president — who has faced months of criticism for waffling on public health guidelines and mocking others for wearing masks — they said they would not be troubled by the thought of the virus.
They may be in the minority: Polling has consistently shown that the pandemic remains a key issue for voters ahead of the Nov. 3 election and Trump has for months gotten poor marks on his response.
He continues to enjoy robust support among the Republican base but, reflecting his long history of exaggerations, lies and misstatements, Trump’s message may not reach many other ears.
Since leaving Walter Reed, the president has tried to reframe the discussion around the virus, arguing he in fact showed decisive leadership and fearlessness — while nonetheless flouting basic guidelines — and that the treatments that have been developed make the deadly virus something people can learn to live with.
He has preferred to talk about the possible lockdowns he says Democrats would impose without end — rather than his administration’s problems rolling out testing nationwide and his decision