BETHESDA, MD — President Donald Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center early Monday evening following a three-day stay for treatment after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. He returned to the White House via Marine One and removed his mask for a photo opportunity before entering the building.
Trump wore a paper mask when he left the hospital, at 6:40 p.m. ET, and did not address questions. He gave thumbs-up gestures to those nearby and walked directly to the vehicle that soon transported him to the Marine One aircraft and the trip back to the White House.
At the White House, video footage shows at least one administration photographer near Trump while he was unmasked. There are more than 100 employees on the White House residence staff alone, according to The Atlantic.
All of whom who could presumably be in close contact with Trump, who accounts for a confirmed positive coronavirus case.
In an earlier tweet, Trump urged his followers to “don’t be afraid” of the coronavirus.
Dr. Sean Conley, one of the president’s doctors, said Trump has not had a high-grade fever in more than 72 hours, was no longer on oxygen but that he “may not be entirely out of the woods yet.”
But the president’s condition improved enough for him to be cleared to return to the White House, according to the doctor.
“There is no evidence of a live virus still present that he could transfer to others,” Conley said.
Conley said the team of doctors will do “everything possible” to allow for Trump to continue serving in his capacity as president “at the White House, or wherever that may be.”
Trump pushed his medical team to discharge him from the hospital just a day after he briefly left to salute supporters from a motorcade and said in a video that he now understands the severity of a virus he has spent the last nine months downplaying.
“We have developed, under the Trump administration, some really great drugs and knowledge,” Trump tweeted Monday afternoon. “I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020
More members of Trump’s inner circle, including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, have announced they have tested positive for the coronavirus. She attended what is being called a “superspreader” event Sept. 26 where more than 150 people gathered in the Rose Garden to congratulate Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. In all, about 13 people closely associated with Trump or the Rose Garden event have tested positive for the virus.
Trump’s motorcade appearance Sunday outside Walter Reed on Sunday was met by scorn by the president’s adversaries, who said it was political theater that showed his willingness to disregard basic precautions to contain the virus — including those recommended by his own coronavirus task force — that so far has killed nearly 210,000 people in the United States.
Secret Service agents assigned to protect Trump fumed to CNN that the impromptu parade was reckless, should never have been allowed and put their health at risk.
In addition, Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, called it “insanity.”
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” Phillips, who has often criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic, wrote on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die.”
Weekend news conferences added more confusion about the health of the president, who has now spent three nights in the hospital after testing positive Thursday for the COVID-19 virus. His physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Trump has “continued to improve” since he was given the steroid dexamethasone after his blood oxygen level dropped twice in recent days.
His blood oxygen level — a key marker in COVID-19 patients — dipped below 94 percent on Friday and then again on Saturday. On Sunday, his blood oxygen level was 98percent, physicians said. But when asked if the president’s blood oxygen level had gone below 90 percent, Conley was evasive.
Along with the steroid, Trump’s treatment plan so far has included two experimental drugs — a single dose of a drug that Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. is testing to supply antibodies to help his immune system fight the virus, and two doses of a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients.
But Trump’s medical team was vague, refusing to answer many questions at a briefing Sunday and omitting potentially key information when they did answer. Conley made a point to say that Trump’s heart, kidney and liver functions were normal, but declined to say what a lung scan showed and if there are signs of pneumonia or other damage.
Trump was busy on Twitter on Sunday and Monday, saying in a video Sunday night that he has learned a great deal about COVID-19 during his stay at Walter Reed.
“I learned it by going to school,” he said. “This is the real school; this isn’t the read-the-book school. I get it.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump’s trip outside the hospital Sunday “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”
He added that precautions were taken, including using personal protective equipment, to protect Trump as well as White House officials and Secret Service agents.
This is a developing story. Refresh this page for updates. The Associated Press contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared on the White House Patch