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 fromCOVID-19.
Wearing a face mask, the president exited the hospital for a photo op but did not stop to 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 on the way. 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.
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!”
According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 210,000 Americans have died from complications related to the coronavirus. Over 7.4 million have been infected.
Early Friday morning, Trumpannouncedthat he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. The president wasbrought to the hospital via Marine One on Friday nightafter 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.
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.”
Trump’s health status has remained unclear after Conleyadmittedto 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.”
CNNreported Mondaythat 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.”