Donald Trump leaves hospital and says 'don't be afraid of Covid'

5 October 2020, 19:40 | Updated: 6 October 2020, 07:01

President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House
President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

President Donald Trump has left hospital and is back at the White House after saying "maybe I'm immune" after his treatment for coronavirus.

The President, who was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday, left the facility at 6.30pm local time. He met the standard to be discharged from hospital but is still contagious.

A masked Mr Trump pumped his fist as he walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on Monday evening towards a waiting SUV that carried him to the Marine One helicopter for the short flight back to the White House.

He said "Thank you very much" to the assembled reporters.

Read more: US Secret Service agents 'put at risk' by Trump trip outside hospital

Announcing his departure earlier on Monday evening, he told followers "don't be afraid of Covid" and claimed to feel "better than I did 20 years ago."

In a tweet, the President wrote: "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!"

Sean Conley, the president's physician, said he "may not entirely be out of the woods yet" but he and the team "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".

President Donald Trump gestures upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
President Donald Trump gestures upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Picture: Getty

Mr Trump is expected to make the journey back to the White House aboard the presidential helicopter, Marine One.

It is unclear how long Mr Trump will remain in isolation at the White House. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms should isolate for at least 10 days.

First Lady Melania Trump also tested positive for the virus, but said she was "feeling good" after suffering mild symptoms.

In a statement, she said: "My family is grateful for all of the prayers and support!

"I am feeling good and will continue to rest at home. Thank you to medical staff and caretakers everywhere, and my continued prayers for those who are ill or have a family member impacted by the virus."

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany become the latest White House aide to test positive for the virus on Monday.

In a statement, Ms McEnany said she was not currently experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19, but had begun her 14 days of quarantine and planned to work remotely.

Ms McEnany spoke briefly with reporters on Sunday evening without wearing a mask, but said that no members of the White House press corps spent enough time around her to be considered close contacts.

Joe Biden's campaign said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday. The results came five days after he spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Mr Trump.

Mr Biden, who has taken a far more cautious approach to in-person events - and has been mocked repeatedly for it by Mr Trump - had two negative tests on Friday.

Doctors revealed on Sunday that Mr Trump's blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly on two occasions since he was admitted.

He has also been given an experimental treatment and a steroid often used for people with serious cases of the illness.

But with weeks to go to the election, he appeared to want to demonstrate a show of strength by taking a now widely-criticised car journey outside the hospital to wave to his gathering supporters.

He was spotted in the back of a black SUV, wearing a mask, and being driven by Secret Service staff, also wearing masks and protective gear.

"This is insanity," Dr James P Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, said of the outing.

"Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die."

He added on Twitter: "For political theatre. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theatre."

But the President defended the journey in a tweet on Monday evening, writing: "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!!!"