Though he has not completely recovered from the coronavirus, President Donald Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center Monday evening.
The president's helicopter Marine One touched down shortly before 7 p.m. in front of the White House. The president walked up the stairs to the White House, took off his mask and stood alone for several moments before entering the White House. The president did not put his mask back on before entering the White House, despite aides and assistants clearly inside the White House. The moment potentially exposed additional workers in the White House complex who have worked in a dangerous environment in recent weeks as the virus has spread among a number of key staff members.
President Trump has returned to the White House after spending three nights at Walter Reed Medical Center for coronavirus treatment.
— CNN (@CNN) October 5, 2020
According to experts, the president would likely still be contagious for up to 10 days following the onset of coronavirus symptoms.
Despite not having fully recovered from the coronavirus, Trump's health has improved enough for him to return to the White House, his doctors said on Monday.
"Though he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that almost all of our evaluations, and most importantly, his clinical status, support the President's safe return home, where he'll be surrounded by world-class medical care 24/7," Dr. Sean Conley said in a press conference Monday.
Conley's press conference came about an hour after Trump tweeted himself that he would be leaving the hospital at 6:30 p.m. ET.
"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!"
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020
Doctors added that Trump remains on a cocktail of drugs to help him fight the virus, including Remdesivir — a drug that has been approved for emergency use to fight COVID-19.
Trump tells people not to be afraid of the virus
Despite the coronavirus causing him to need oxygen therapy and a 72-hour hospital stay, Trump told Americans not to let the coronavirus "dominate" their lives.
"Don't let it dominate you," Trump said from the White House shortly after his return on Monday. "Don't be afraid of it. You're going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines, all developed recently. And you're gonna beat it."
But for thousands of Americans, they haven't been able to beat the virus. The virus has claimed more than 210,000 US lives since March. Just in the last week alone, more than 5,000 have died from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Doctors optimistic of Trump's recovery
Conley again continued to paint an optimistic picture of Trump's condition, describing him "holding court" with doctors and lawmakers by phone and pointing to White House-released photos and videos that show him working through his illness. However, Conley again did not share the last time Trump tested negative for COVID-19, and chose not to share results from an imaging scan of the President's lungs.
Conley did not get into specifics as to whether Trump would be quarantined in the White House residence upon his return or if he would be able to visit the West Wing, adding that it was the goal of the medical team to get him back to work soon. Conley also did not say when it would be safe for the President to resume traveling, simply saying, "we'll see."
The press conference came hours after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in an appearance on Fox News that Trump's condition has continued to improve, and that officials will meet with Trump's doctors to determine if the president can be discharged from the hospital this afternoon.
"Obviously, he continued to improve overnight. His health continues to improve," Meadows said during an appearance on Fox & Friends Monday morning. "The doctors will have an evaluation sometime late morning, and then president, in consultation with doctors, will make a decision on whether to discharge him later today."
WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Fox & Friends on discharge: "The doctors will actually have an evaluation some time late morning and then the president, in consultation with the doctors, will make a decision on whether to discharge him later today." pic.twitter.com/zBbeDiO44m
— The Recount (@therecount) October 5, 2020
Trump has been hospitalized with COVID-19 at Walter Reed Medical Center since Friday. While Trump's doctors have painted an encouraging picture of his condition since he's arrived at the hospital, there are other signs that he is suffering from more than a mild case of the virus.
On Saturday, Trump's doctors painted a mostly optimistic outlook on his condition, saying that he was making tremendous progress and continuing to work despite the diagnosis. However, they declined to say whether Trump had received supplemental oxygen since he began experiencing symptoms and how high his fever reached. It's since been confirmed that Trump did briefly receive supplemental oxygen since contracting the virus.
Following that Saturday press conference, a White House official told pool reporters on background that Trump's vitals over the last 24 hours had been "very concerning" and that the next 48 hours were "critical" in his recovery.
On Sunday, Trump's doctors gave more information on the cocktail of drugs the president was taking to fight the virus. Those medications included dexamethasone — a steroid that the AP and other outlets reported is usually given to "critically ill" patients.
Later on Sunday, Trump briefly left Walter Reed in a car driven by Secret Service agents to wave to a group of his supporters that were camped outside the hospital.
Infections spread through the White House
Meanwhile, the spread of the virus has continued among close contacts of the president. The latest high-ranking White House official to announce a positive coronavirus test was press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday.
McEnany joined a growing list of officials to test positive for the virus, which also included aide Hope Hicks, first lady Melania Trump, Trump bodyman Nick Luna, three US senators, former NJ Gov. Chris Christie, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Trump campaign chair Bill Stepien. Christie said he checked into a hospital as a precaution given his medical history.
Getting Trump back to work
While CDC guidelines call on a 10-day isolation period, Conley said Trump intends to work out of the White House as soon as possible.
While Conley wouldn’t go into details on whether Trump would work out of the Oval Office, Conley acknowledged that Trump could still be shedding the virus for up to 10 days following the onset of symptoms.