Donald Trump will leave hospital and return to the White House on Monday evening after a three-day stay to treat symptoms of the coronavirus, the US president and his medical team have announced.
Trump told his Twitter followers that he was “feeling really good” and would be discharged from the Walter Reed military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, at 6.30pm on Monday. The president’s physician, however, cautioned that Trump was not yet entirely “out of the woods”.
The president also offered controversial advice to the public via his tweet, saying: “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!”
The message appeared to confirm predictions of critics that, if Trump stays relatively healthy, he will attempt to use his own experience to yet again downplay the virus and claim that its severity has been exaggerated.
More than 200,000 Americans have died so far from the coronavirus, the highest total in the world.
Sean Conley, the White House physician, explained the decision for Trump leaving the hospital. “He’s met or exceeded all standard discharge criteria. He’ll receive another dose of Remdesivir [an antiviral medication] here today and then we plan to get him home.”
Conley said the president would continue to receive “world-class, 24/7” medical care at the White House.
He added: “We send patients home with medications all the time. In fact, yesterday afternoon he probably met most of his discharge requirements.”
A reporter asked how this would be safe, referring to Trump’s drive by supporters on Sunday and his return to the White House, where staff have reportedly been in turmoil since the president and first lady’s diagnoses with coronavirus late last week.
Conley said: “The president has been surrounded by medical and security staff for days wearing full PPE. And yesterday the US secret service agents were in that same level of PPE for a very short period of time.”
It has been more than 72 hours since Trump’s last fever, Conley added, and his blood oxygen level is normal. “Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all 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.”
Trump has been treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since late on Friday afternoon. His medical team have given upbeat assessments of his condition, but this message has been undercut by the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and by the decision to treat Trump with the steroid dexamethasone, usually reserved for more severe cases.
Medical experts have suggested that Trump is applying pressure to the doctors to give a positive spin so that he can get back to work and project strength a month before the presidential election.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, told the MSNBC network: “First of all, I hope it’s an indication that his physicians have given permission to do this. We pray for the president’s comfort and speedy recovery for him. He has to remember, though, that his words weigh a ton.”
Pelosi, a Democrat, added: “As president of the United States, if he is acting frivolously with this virus, as he has done all along, this is dangerous for the American people. So I hope that we will hear a trustworthy report from his physicians and that the news is good, but it’s not to make light of it. The president could go back to the White House and become a ‘long hauler’, someone who has consequences from this virus.”
The president’s return comes as the White House is still learning of the scale of the apparent outbreak on the complex last week. The press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday morning.
Trump provoked fierce criticism on Sunday when he was taken for a short car outside the hospital to wave to supporters, potentially putting secret service agents in his vehicle at risk.
The president responded on Twitter: “It is reported that the Media is upset because I got into a secure vehicle to say thank you to the many fans and supporters who were standing outside of the hospital for many hours, and even days, to pay their respect to their President. If I didn’t do it, Media would say RUDE!!!”