President Donald Trump says he’s leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after spending three nights in the hospital being treated for coronavirus, an experience he sought to downplay in a message announcing his discharge.
In a striking message for a current coronavirus patient who experienced serious symptoms of the disease and whose treatment included experimental treatments unavailable to most Americans, Trump tweeted: “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
He will return to a White House that has now become a center for viral contagion — in part because of disregard for mitigation measures — as more members of his staff test positive for the disease and questions emerge about what steps have been taken to curtail the spread.
Questions also persist about Trump’s condition, which his doctors have said required intravenous medication and, on at least two occasions, supplemental oxygen. Roughly three hours before his planned departure, the President’s physician said: “he’s met or exceeded all hospital discharge criteria.”
“We plan to get him home,” Sean Conley told reporters outside Walter Reed.
Even as Trump has told aides he feels better and is agitating to get out of the hospital, aides have encouraged him to stay, warning him of the bad optics if his condition were to worsen and require a second hospitalization.
Trump insisted on returning, however, and on Monday made the announcement on Twitter.
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” Trump tweeted on Monday afternoon.
“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he added. “We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
His message downplaying the severity of the virus will do little to dispel the notion his own nonchalance toward mitigation measures is what landed Trump in the hospital to begin with.
And his mention of therapeutics meant to combat the virus will have little application for regular Americans facing a positive diagnosis; medical experts have suggested the combination of experimental treatments and therapies Trump received would be mostly out of reach for anyone except the President.
Speaking Monday, Conley said it had been 72 hours since Trump’s last fever and that his oxygen levels were normal.
“He may not be entirely out of the woods yet,” Conley acknowledged, but said his current condition supported a “safe return home.”
Bored and eager to appear healthy, Trump has agitated for a swift release and on Sunday made a foray outside the hospital walls for a slow-motion drive-by to greet supporters gathered at a roadside nearby.
People who have spoken to the President over the past day say he sounds in good spirits even as he pushed to be released. Trump was demanding to go back to the White House on Sunday, two sources familiar with the situation told CNN, but was convinced to remain by his medical team.
“He is done with the hospital,” one of the sources said of Trump’s mood on Sunday. Trump is concerned the sight of him being hospitalized “makes him look weak,” the other source said.
Not all of his allies are in agreement; the President is being warned if he rushes to leave the hospital and then has a setback requiring readmittance it would be damaging not only to his health but politically as well.
More than two days since he was airlifted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Americans remain largely in the dark about the trajectory of his infection with Covid-19 and the specifics of his condition.