President Trump returns to White House for virus recovery

Rejects fearing the illness, to “be back on the campaign trail soon”

SKY News
October 06, 2020 - 7:45 am
U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump returned to the White House after leaving the military hospital where he was receiving care for COVID-19. He declared that despite his illness, the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

Landing Monday night at the White House on Marine One, Trump gingerly climbed the South Portico steps, removed his mask and declared, “I feel good.” He gave a double thumbs-up to the departing helicopter from the portico terrace.

The president left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where his doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said earlier Monday that the president would not be fully “out of the woods” for another week but that Trump had met or exceeded standards for discharge from the hospital. Trump is expected to continue his recovery at the White House.

A month before the election and anxious to project strength, Trump tweeted before leaving the hospital, “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!”

“Don't be afraid of it," Trump said of the virus. "You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines.”

Trump’s message about not fearing the virus comes as his own administration has encouraged Americans to be very careful and take precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the disease as cases continue to spike across the country.

Likewise, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump last week, said during an NBC town hall Monday night that he was glad Trump seemed to be recovering well, "but there’s a lot to be concerned about -- 210,000 people have died. I hope no one walks away with the message that it’s not a problem.” Biden tested negative for the virus on Sunday.

There was pushback from a prominent Trump political supporter.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told the Houston Chronicle editorial board that Trump had “let his guard down” in his effort to show that the country was moving beyond the virus and had created “confusion” about how to stay safe.

Conley said that because of Trump's unusual level of treatment so early after discovery of his illness he was in “uncharted territory.” But the doctor also was upbeat at an afternoon briefing and said the president could resume his normal schedule once “there is no evidence of live virus still present.”

Trump's arrival back at the White House came as the administration is determining how to protect other officials from the virus. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she had tested positive Monday morning and was entering quarantine.

There were also lingering questions about potential long-term effects to the president — and even when he first came down with the virus.

Conley declined to share results of medical scans of Trump’s lungs, saying he was not at liberty to discuss the information because Trump did not waive doctor-patient confidentiality on the subject. Conley also declined to share the date of Trump's most recent negative test for the virus — a critical point for contact tracing and understanding where Trump was in the course of the disease.

At the hospital, doctors revealed that his blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid.

Trump was leaving the hospital after receiving a fourth dose of the antiviral drug remdesivir Monday evening, Conley said. He will receive the fifth and final dose Tuesday at the White House.

Vice President Mike Pence returned to the campaign trail moments after Trump announced he would soon leave the hospital. The vice president boarded Air Force Two to fly to Salt Lake City, where he is to face off against Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

Trump, in his new video, referred to the potential danger to himself: “I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did.” He added: "And I know there's a risk, there’s a danger. But that’s OK. And now I'm better. And maybe I’m immune, I don’t know.”

Trump’s aggressive course of treatment included the steroid dexamethasone and the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus. Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and remdesivir curbs the virus’s ability to multiply.

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