Trump returns to White House after hospitalization as he fights COVID-19
President Donald Trump left the hospital minutes after tweeting that he was going to surprise supporters outside Walter Reed.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump returned to the White House on Monday, three days after he arrived at Walter Reed hospital with coronavirus symptoms that were alarming enough that doctors administered oxygen and several rounds of aggressive treatment.
Marine One touched town on the South Lawn shortly before 7 p.m. ET. Trump walked off the helicopter, removed his mask and stood in the South Portico. Flanked by American flags, Trump gave several thumbs up before entering the White House.
Minutes earlier, Trump walked down the steps of the hospital tower at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Trump, who was wearing a mask, did not answer shouted questions but gave several thumbs up and celebratory fist shakes for the cameras gathered outside the building.
“Thank you very much everybody,” Trump said outside Walter Reed , giving a slight wave.
Trump, who has received around-the-clock care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and therapies not widely available to most patients experiencing mild symptoms, advised his followers in a tweet earlier Monday to not “be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge.”
Trump asserted that he felt better than he did “20 years ago.”
The announcement, which Trump’s doctors presaged the day before, came with fanfare from the White House about the president’s recovery but also uncertainty from medical experts and critics about how serious Trump’s case of COVID is, and how much it will affect his presidential duties and reelection 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
Through the early days of his ordeal, Trump had indicated a desire to return quickly to the campaign trail. Several of his supporters posted social media messages on Monday suggesting the president had “defeated” the virus. Hogan Gidley, a Trump campaign spokesman, posted a GIF of Trump throwing a celebratory fist in the air at a WWE event. Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Trump plans to participate in the Oct. 15 presidential debate to be set in Miami.
“Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!” Trump tweeted shortly before emerging from Walter Reed. “The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls.”
Others were less convinced. Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a New Jersey Republican, described the decision to leave as “irresponsible” and “shocking.”
“Leaving 1 of the best hospitals, having received drugs the average person doesn’t have access to, going home w/ full medical staff, he has the audacity to say don’t fear #COVID19 & he feels better than ever? THIS is our President?!” she tweeted.
The decision to return to the White House, where several aides have announced in recent days that they, too, have tested positive, came as those close to Trump have sent mixed signals about his condition. On the one hand, White House physician Sean Conley had consistently offered an upbeat assessment but has also disclosed troubling symptoms, and new drug prescriptions, after the fact.
Trump’s doctors said the president was given the steroid dexamethasone on Saturday following a previously undisclosed drop inoxygen levels. The World Health Organization recommends that drug only for “critical” cases. Conley has pointedly declined to answer whether Trump has developed lung damage from his illness.
Trump received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail on Friday as a precautionary measure. He also has received several rounds of Remdesivir therapy and has taken zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin, doctors said.
When pressed for details about Trump’s condition during a briefing Monday, Conley cited the 1996 health insurance privacy law that shields patients from having their personal health information divulged. But throughout the course of the president’s treatment, Conley has had no qualms providing detailed health information if it showed the president was improving.
“He’s back,” Conley said in a briefing Monday.
“Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations, and most importantly his clinical status, support the resident’s safe return home,” Conley said.
“Over the past 24 hours, the president has continued to improve,” he said. “He’s met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria.”
Conley did not answer a specific question about whether the president would be confined to the residence at the White House or whether he would be allowed to work from the West Wing. Conley said his team would do “whatever it takes” to allow him to work from wherever he needs to work from.
Trump’s medical team suggested the possibility Sunday that he could be released from Walter Reed Medical Center if his condition continued to improve, and White House aides – and the president himself – have asserted he is eager to return home, even as a growing number of West Wing officials announce they have positive test results.
The news came as the White House faced a growing number of questions about inconsistent and incomplete information provided about Trump’s condition, not to mention a burgeoning number of aides who have tested positive. Top among those was White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who tested positive Monday.
Two other aides in the White House press office also tested positive. Many of those aides attended events at the White House on Sept. 26 tied to Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
On Sunday, White House physician Sean Conley acknowledged the president had been given oxygen and explained the decision to not disclose that information earlier by saying he “didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction and in doing so came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”
Conley declined to answer a key question Monday that would help assess the potential spread of the disease within the White House that officials have refused to answer for days: When did the president receive his last ‘negative’ test result for coronavirus.
“I don’t want to go backwards,” Conley said.
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