An attending physician at Walter Reed Medical Center has criticized President Donald Trump after he briefly broke his quarantine by leaving the hospital for a drive-by visit with supporters Sunday afternoon. The short trip not only violated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines, which recommends that those diagnosed with coronavirus isolate for 14 days, but also Maryland public health guidance, which also requests that those with the virus quarantine and isolate.
The motorcade visit, which has prompted backlash from many in the medical community as well as Americans on social media, has since drawn the ire of Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University and an attending physician at Walter Reed Medical Center. In a series of tweets, Phillips blasted the visit as "political theater" and "insanity." Phillips noted that because Trump is positive for the virus, all people inside of the vehicle with him would now have to quarantine. He added that the president "put their lives at risk for theater."
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. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.— Dr. James P. Phillips, MD (@DrPhillipsMD) October 4, 2020
Phillips went on to note that the president's SUV is "not only bulletproof but hermetically sealed against chemical attack." Due to this, he said that "the risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures." He said that "the irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play."
Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday and is being treated for symptoms of COVID-19, took part in the motorcade Sunday evening. He had teased a "surprise" for his supporters earlier, writing, "We're going to pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots that we have out on the street, and they've been out there for a long time and they've got Trump flags and they love our country."
During the drive-by, the president sat in the back of an SUV and waved at his supporters. Photos and videos of the motorcade visit appeared to show the president wearing a cloth face covering, which is also recommended to slow the spread of the virus. Secret Service members in the car with him, meanwhile, appeared to be wearing N95 masks.
White House: “President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed.” pic.twitter.com/1eGfrx2f9J— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) October 4, 2020
The president tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday evening, confirming the diagnosis on Twitter just before 1 a.m. on Friday. His positive test results came just hours after it was announced that Hope Hicks, a senior aide, had tested positive. First Lady Melania Trump has also contracted the virus, along with a number of others in Trump's inner circle.