President Donald Trump gave a thumbs-up to reporters on Monday evening as he left Walter Reed Military Medical Center. The president was discharged from the hospital early, at a point when he is likely still sick and still contagious with COVID-19. He hardly spoke a word but made encouraging gestures at those he passed.
Footage from ABC News shows Trump walking out the door of the hospital, pausing to raise a fist, then strolling down the stairs to a waiting car. As reporters called out questions, a voice said, "thank you very much," though it was hard to tell if it was Trump because he wore a face mask. Just before reaching the car, Trump stopped to turn and give a thumbs up to the camera, raise his fist again, and then get seated.
BREAKING: Pres. Trump gives a thumbs up as he leaves Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was admitted Friday after testing positive for COVID-19.October 5, 2020
Trump stepped out of Marine One without a mask on when they arrived back at the White House, further indicating that he might have put those in the helicopter at risk. He then walked up the stairs to a decorative entrance to the capital, waving at reporters from afar.
Trump was driven from the hospital to Marine One, the presidential helicopter, which took him back to the White House in a matter of minutes. Public health experts have their eyes on everyone involved in the president's ill-advised move — particularly those that rode with him in the car and the helicopter — as they are at high risk of catching COVID-19 from him.
Trump's doctors said on Sunday that he could be discharged from the hospital "as early as" Monday, despite the general guidelines that coronavirus patients be isolated for at least 10 days after they stop experiencing symptoms. On Monday afternoon, Trump announced that he was leaving the hospital via Twitter, with no official confirmation from his doctors or his aides.
Trump's team has not tried to hide the fact that he is returning to the White House to keep up appearances. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley told The Associated Press: "We're going to do whatever it takes for the president to safely conduct business" within the White House. Many analysts have condemned these measures, saying they are not worth it, and they are insensitive to those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic.
In his tweet on Monday, Trump told his followers: "don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life." Many called this insensitive and cruel for the millions of Americans who are mourning loved ones, after over 210,000 Americans have passed away in this crisis. So far, it is not clear how Trump will resume day-to-day life in the White House while he is contagious.