Coronavirus | Donald Trump, likely still contagious, back at White House

The President left Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, disembarked from Presidential chopper Marine One, took off his mask and posed for photos

October 06, 2020 05:06 am | Updated 08:20 pm IST - Washington DC

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he departs Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after a fourth day of treatment for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to return to the White House in Washington from the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., October 5, 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he departs Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after a fourth day of treatment for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to return to the White House in Washington from the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., October 5, 2020.

Just three nights after he was hospitalized for COVID-19, U.S. President Donald Trump, who likely is still contagious with COVID-19, left the hospital and returned to the White House. As the national death toll from the virus reached 210,000, Mr. Trump told Americans not to be “afraid” of COVID and let it “dominate” their lives.

Mr Trump , who was restless — as  to a normal life through most of his stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, released vidoes , took a ride in his limousine and sent out a tweet storm of campaign style messages before he was discharged on Monday evening. Just before he left the hospital, Mr Trump announced on Twitter that he would be back on the campaign trail soon .

The President’s treatment includes a drug that can cause temporary boosts in energy levels — the steroid dexamethasone, in addition to remdesivir and a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies. 

Mr Trump — who was given special access to this experimental antibody cocktail — told other Americans, many of whom are told to recover at home if they have the disease, that they should not be scared of the disease: messaging that was criticized widely.

“ I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Centre 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!” Mr Trump tweeted on Monday.

“…Many people of privilege have options in deciding  how much they worry about covid. But the vast majority of worse-off people does not have this luxury. Covid-related unemployment, illness and death are much higher among worse-off people, and especially minorities, “  Harald Schmidt, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Hindu.

“Belittling peoples justified worries, or encouraging them to let their guard down is the last thing  we need right now,” Mr Schmidt said, citing the COVID death toll.

Alighting from the presidential chopper, Marine One, after his ten minute flight back home, the president took off his mask  as he posed for photos between American flags on the balcony of the White House, which has itself become a hotspot for the virus.

“The scientific evidence is clear, masks save lives. The president certainly has a sense for effective photo-opps, but the signal is exactly the wrong one,” Mr Schmidt said.

In addition to First Lady Melania Trump and a number of others in Mr Trump’s circle, On Monday 

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced on Monday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. Two of her aides have also been infected as per CNN. Three journalists of the White House Press Corps had also been infected. A number of Mr Trump’s inner circle, including the First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive since last week.

Later on Monday evening, Mr Trump released a video that reiterated his message about not letting the virus dominate life.

“I stood out front, I led,” Mr Trump said about his experience of the past few days. “Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s okay,” he said.

On Sunday , while still hospitalized and infectious, Mr Trump – wearing what appeared to be a cloth mask- took a short ride in the presidential limousine with secret service agents in the vehicle and the windows up. The president was criticized by doctors as well as former secret service agents for needlessly exposing agents to the virus. 

Mr Trump and the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden , have taken sharply contrasting approaches to the disease — both in terms of policy as well as personal behaviour . Earlier on Monday, a video  of former Second Lady Jill Biden was published , in which could be seen pulling her husband Mr Biden back from a gaggle of reporters on the tarmac at New Castle airport, in Delaware.  Mr Biden also tweeted about the importance of masks and following scientific advice in response to Monday’s tweet-storm from the president.

 “Now that President Trump is busy tweeting campaign messages, I would ask him to do this: Listen to the scientists. Support masks. Support mask mandates nationwide,” Mr Biden wrote.

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