President Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening, after spending three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center battling COVID-19.
Trump climbed the stairs at the South Portico of the White House, removed his mask, and saluted as he looked over the South Lawn. He appeared to be breathing deeply.
In a video posted shortly thereafter, he defended his conduct and suggested he may be immune from the virus.
“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,” he said. “You’re gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently. And you’re gonna beat it. I went, I didn’t feel so good, and two days ago, I could have left two days ago, two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time. I said just recently, better than 20 years ago. Don’t let it dominate. Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen. We have the greatest country in the world.”
“We’re going back,” he continued. “We’re going back to work. We’re going to be out front. As your leader I had to do that. I knew there was danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk. There’s a danger. But that’s OK. And now I’m better. And maybe I’m immune, I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there, be careful, we have the best medicines in the world. And it all happened very shortly, and they’re all getting approved, and the vaccines are coming momentarily.”
In a town hall on MSNBC on Monday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden said he hoped that Trump “would communicate the right lesson to the American people. Masks matter.”
“There’s a lot to be concerned about — 210,000 people have died,” Biden continued. “I hope no one walks away with a message thinking that it is not a problem. It’s a serious problem. It’s an international pandemic.”
He also argued it should be seen as a patriotic duty to wear a mask.
Asked if Trump bore some responsibility for contracting the virus, Biden said, “Look, anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them.”
Around 6:30 p.m., Trump gave a thumbs up to reporters as he left the hospital, but did not answer a shouted question from a reporter: “Do you think you might be a super-spreader, Mr. President?”
He then took a motorcade to Marine One, which ferried him to the South Lawn of White House.
Trump had tweeted earlier in the day that he would leave the hospital.
“Feeling really good!” he said. “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!”
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
At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Trump’s physician Sean Conley said that “he may not be entirely out of the woods yet,” but that he was cleared to return to the White House.
Conley declined to say when the president had last tested negative, or to share results of his lung scans, citing HIPAA, the federal patient privacy law.
Trump’s return to the White House comes as a growing circle of presidential advisers have tested positive. On Monday morning, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, announced that she had tested positive. CNN reported that two of McEnany’s aides had also tested positive.
Trump’s blood oxygen levels dropped twice over the course of his treatment, Conley said at a press conference on Sunday. He was given supplemental oxygen, as well as a variety of drug treatments, including Remdesivir, dexomethosone and an experimental Regeneron antibody cocktail.
Trump released a video on Sunday thanking the staff at Walter Reed and saying that he had “learned a lot” about COVID.
“I learned it by really going to school,” he said. “This is the real school. This isn’t the ‘let’s read the books’ school. And I get it. And I understand it. And it’s a very interesting thing and I’m going to be letting you know about it.”
Trump took an SUV tour outside the facility on Sunday afternoon to wave at supporters who had gathered there, drawing criticism for needlessly exposing Secret Service agents to the virus.
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