'Don't be afraid of it,' Trump says of COVID-19 after leaving hospital


President Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday evening to return to the White House, three days after being admitted to the hospital for treatment of complications from COVID-19.

“I learned so much about coronavirus,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter that he filmed at the White House upon his arrival, “And one thing that’s for certain: don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it.”

As of Monday night, at least 210,117 Americans have been killed by COVID-19, many of whom did not receive near the same level of medical care that the president received at Walter Reed.

“Don’t let it dominate you,” Trump said in the video. “Don’t let it take over your lives.”

Trump went on to praise himself, saying “I stood out front, I led,” in reference his stay in the hospital, adding, “nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did.”

“Now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know,” Trump boasted though he has not yet cleared himself of the virus and likely remains infectious.

When he exited the hospital at approximately 6:40 p.m. ET, the president wore a face mask and posed for pictures but did not answer questions shouted from reporters.

“Thank you very much everybody,” he said before getting into a black SUV that transported him to a waiting helicopter.

Upon landing on the White House lawn, Trump ascended a staircase to a second-floor balcony, removing his face mask after reaching the top. On the balcony, which was decked out in American flags, the president posed for more photos and offered a salute as the helicopter lifted off before walking inside, his face covering shoved into a suit pocket.

Earlier in the day, he announced on Twitter that he would be returning to the White House.

“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M.,” Trump tweeted Monday afternoon. “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!”

Early Friday morning, Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. The president was brought to the hospital via Marine One on Friday night after he had developed a fever and his blood oxygen level had “dropped rapidly” and he required supplemental oxygen, according to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Trump received an experimental antibody treatment along with the antiviral remdesivir and the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone. Both of the latter drugs were in use before the coronavirus pandemic hit and before Trump took office.

Sean Conley
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley answers questions during a press briefing on President Trump's condition. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said the president’s condition “has continued to improve,” and that he would receive his fourth of five doses of remdesivir Monday before being discharged.

“Though he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all of his evaluations, and most importantly his clinical status, support the president’s safe return home, where he’ll be surrounded by world-class medical care 24/7,” Conley said, adding: “If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving, then we will take this deep sigh of relief.”

Conley also said Trump had not shown any side effects from his drug regimen.

“He’s back,” Conley said.

But Conley would not disclose the date of Trump’s last negative COVID-19 test, nor would he say whether the president’s chest X-rays showed lung damage as a result of the infection.

“He is going back essentially to a hospital within the White House,” said Dr. Uché Blackstock, Yahoo News medical contributor and chief executive of Advancing Health Equity. “People who have had the same symptoms and same course as he has had would probably have remained in a hospital and not have left at this point in their hospitalization, because they don’t have the privilege or the luxury of having a hospital at their home.”

“This virus is still very serious,” Blackstock added. “As we saw from the president’s hospital course thus far, his oxygen levels went down, he needed supplemental oxygen, he needed a variety of medications, and that’s why he’s doing well. And so it’s really important to continue wearing the mask, physically distancing, and keeping in mind all those preventative measures, because what we see is that the president did not do this, and that’s why he ended up hospitalized.”

President Trump waves to supporters in front of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday. (Cheriss May/Reuters)
President Trump waves to supporters in front of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday. (Cheriss May/Reuters)

Trump’s health status has remained unclear after Conley admitted to reporters Sunday that, during a press briefing a day earlier, he had tried to conceal the fact that the president had received oxygen at the White House.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude of the team [and] the president over the course of his illness,” Conley said. “I didn’t want to give any info that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”

Trump has released two videos on social media from the hospital thanking his followers for well wishes, and in one proclaiming he had “learned a lot about COVID” by going to the “real school.”

The White House released photographs that it said showed Trump working at a table while in the presidential unit of Walter Reed, although the paper he was shown signing in one photo appeared to be blank.

Late Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly left Walter Reed in a motorcade to salute flag-waving supporters outside the hospital, drawing sharp criticism for putting the driver, his aides and the Secret Service at risk of contracting the virus.

“This is insanity,” tweeted Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed who is not involved in the president’s care. “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die.”

CNN reported Monday that a Secret Service agent assigned to the first family’s detail said of the car ride, “That should never have happened. ... The frustration with how we’re treated when it comes to decisions on this illness goes back before this though. We’re not disposable.”


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