President Donald Trump announced that he was leaving Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Monday, despite his condition with COVID-19. The president began experiencing symptoms of the virus sometime last week, and first tested positive for it on Thursday. This means that he is almost certainly still contagious with the coronavirus.
Trump is likely spreading his case of COVID-19 among all the aides, Secret Service agents and healthcare professionals involved in transporting him from the hospital to the White House on Monday evening. According to a report by Harvard Health, most COVID-19 patients are contagious for at least 10 days after their symptoms resolve. There is no indication that Trump's symptoms are behind him yet, so he is far from meeting even that theoretical criteria. On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on CNN to confirm that Trump is most likely still contagious as he leaves the hospital.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says everyone who was at President Trump's Rose Garden event announcing the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court should “absolutely” be contacted by contact tracers https://t.co/zpJQHJxbVe pic.twitter.com/PqSvh7g2Vn— CNN (@CNN) October 5, 2020
"It really varies from person to person," Fauci said of the contagious period of the coronavirus. "What usually happens is that you get exposed, after a couple of days the virus replicates in your upper airway and you can be infectious to other people for a day or two before you actually get your symptoms."
Fauci said that "about five days is the median time from exposure to the expression of symptoms," meaning that most people spread the virus without even realizing it for the first few days after contracting it. Once they begin to feel sick, they can take precautions, but leaving isolation as early as Trump is doing goes against all advice from public health officials.
"After a few days you might be sick and yet the virus is no longer transmissible because we have done studies when you try and isolate the virus in the nasopharynx when people even are in the disease state or recovering and you don't have it," Fauci said. "It's usually from before they get symptomatic to a few days after."
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
"The general guidelines are when it is safe for a person to go out from the time they get symptoms is around 10 days from the onset of symptoms," Fauci added.0comments
Trump and his staff are reportedly not taking many precautions amid this early discharge from the hospital. According to a report by The Associated Press, the Trump administration refusing offers of help with contact tracing from other agencies, and is not explaining how White House staff will be kept safe when the president returns.
Trump has made no secret that he wants to return to the White House in spite of medical advice, not in accordance with it. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley told reporters: "we're going to do whatever it takes for the president to safely conduct business" within the White House.