Trump says he’s leaving Walter Reed Monday evening

President Trump announced that he will be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Monday evening after three days of treatment, insisting that Americans should not be “afraid” of the novel coronavirus.

Trump, whose oxygen levels dropped as recently as Saturday and who is on several medications following his COVID-19 diagnosis, tweeted that he is “feeling really good” and said that Americans should not allow COVID-19 to “dominate your life,” downplaying a virus that has killed over 210,000 people in the country. He said that he feels better than he did 20 years ago following his treatment at the military hospital in Bethesda, Md. 

“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” Trump tweeted. “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!”

Trump tweeted the news shortly before his medical team was expected to brief reporters on his condition and treatment. The message immediately raised questions about the decision-making process. 

White House physician Sean Conley told reporters that Trump’s symptoms have continued to improve and that he has met or exceeded all discharge criteria. But he acknowledged that Trump may not yet be “out of the woods,” underscoring the degree of uncertainty surrounding his condition. 

“Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all of our evaluations, and most importantly, his clinical status, support the president’s safe return home,” Conley said. 

Trump’s doctors had told reporters on Sunday that he could be discharged as early as Monday as they painted a rosy portrait of his condition and recovery while continuing to evade some questions about his treatment and health. At the same time, the doctors also revealed that Trump had a high fever on Friday and experienced two transient drops in his oxygen levels on Friday and Saturday. 

According to the medical team, the president is currently on multiple medications, including the antiviral medication remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and an experimental antibody cocktail made by Regeneron. 

The president’s doctors said Monday that Trump would receive his fourth dose of remdesivir at the hospital and his fifth on Tuesday when he is back at the White House. They also said that Trump will continue to receive dexamethasone, which is used to reduce inflammation.

White House officials and Trump’s medical team have acknowledged that the president is not out of the woods yet and that COVID-19 patients can go through peaks and valleys with their symptoms.

There is a risk that Trump could experience a setback while he receives treatment at the White House and have to return to the hospital, something that could be damaging for both his health and his re-election chances. Trump is 74 and overweight, putting him at higher risk for serious coronavirus complications.

But the president, who is a known germaphobe and said to be averse to hospitals, reportedly had been eager to leave Walter Reed and return to the White House. He briefly left his hospital room on Sunday evening to wave to supporters gathered outside from inside his motorcade vehicle.

Conley on Monday acknowledged that Trump could be most vulnerable during the seven-to-10 day period following his diagnosis but insisted the president would receive “world-class” care from the White House medical unit. 

“That is why we all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard because we are in a bit of unchartered territory when it comes to a patient that received the therapies he has so early in the course,” Conley said. “If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving better yet, then we will all take that final deep sigh of relief.” 

He declined to answer several questions about when the president received his first positive test and what chest scans had revealed about the president’s lungs. 

The president’s tweet and his eagerness to return to the White House are in line with his months-long attempt to downplay the severity of COVID-19, something he told journalist Bob Woodward in March he did intentionally. 

Trump on Monday urged Americans not to be afraid of the virus, but the president has access to medical resources unavailable to most in the country. For example, Trump was given the Regeneron antibody cocktail under a compassionate use agreement, but the treatment is not available to the public.

Trump’s words prompted blowback and surprise from health experts who argued the president was sending the wrong message to the American public. 

“‘Don’t be afraid of Covid.’ Are you kidding me? After 210,000 deaths in the U.S. & 1 million deaths worldwide? This either shows a breathtakingly callous, inhumane & counterproductive attitude, or he has altered mental status – in which case the 25th Amendment should be invoked,” tweeted Bob Wachter, Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. 

The announcement came as more COVID-19 cases were revealed in the White House, suggesting a larger outbreak that could expand in the coming days. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she had tested positive for the virus after days of negative tests, and at least two additional press staffers and two housekeeping staff in the White House were reported to have tested positive. 

Trump and first lady Melania Trump were first diagnosed with COVID-19 late Thursday, and the president was transported to Walter Reed less than 24 hours later — a decision that the White House maintains was made out of an abundance of caution. 

But the White House has offered confusing and incomplete answers about the status of Trump’s condition, harming its credibility in a time of crisis. White House physician Sean Conley acknowledged Sunday that he did not initially disclose that Trump had received supplemental oxygen on Friday because he wanted to reflect the “upbeat attitude” of the team about Trump’s condition. 

Chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Friday that Trump had been feeling “very energetic,” only to disclose the next day that Trump’s vitals had been “very concerning” before he was taken to the hospital.

—Updated at 4:12 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Kayleigh McEnany Mark Meadows Melania Trump REGENERON Trump positive test walter reed national military medical center
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