Updated October 6, 2020 - 6:09 am
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump returned to the White House Monday night, some 72 hours after he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of the coronavirus.
Trump, wearing a light mask, emerged from Marine One after it landed on the South Lawn. He walked to the White House residence, flashing a thumbs-up sign.
In a display of his fitness, Trump then walked up the long, crescent-shaped South Portico stairs, stood on the balcony, took off his mask and saluted Marine One as it lifted off.
Inside, Trump made a short video in which he addressed the nation.
“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it,” Trump said. He added that he was well enough to leave the hospital two days earlier.
In a nod to criticism about his attitude about the pandemic, Trump added, “Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden said he was glad to see Trump up and around.
“My prayers continue with the president and first lady for their health and safety,” Biden said on the campaign trail in the Little Havana section of Miami. “I was glad to see the president speaking, recording videos.”
“I would ask him to do this. Listen to the scientists,” the Democratic nominee added, and “require masks in every federal building and facility and in interstate travel. Urge every governor to do the same. We know it saves lives. The administration just rejected a mask mandate for public transportation on Friday … I believe that was wrong and not very rational.”
Trump’s doctor, Navy Cdr. Sean Conley, said 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.
“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,” Conley told reporters.
“We try to get patients home and out of the hospital as quickly as is safe and reasonable,” Conley noted. The team, he said, was “cautiously optimistic.”
If Trump can make it through the coming weekend and into Monday feeling the same or improving, Conley explained, “then we all take that final deep sigh of relief.”
Conley declined to answer questions about when Trump last tested negative for COVID, which quarantine measures would be taken at the White House, or talk about the results about lung scans.
He did say Trump experienced no side effects from medications — remdesivir, dexamethasone, Regeneron’s experimental antibody treatment.
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
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that after testing negative every day since Thursday, she tested positive on Monday for the coronavirus but was experiencing no symptoms. McEnany reiterated that she was unaware that that trusted Trump adviser Hope Hicks, with whom McEnany works closely, had tested positive when she held her most recent briefing on Thursday morning. McEnany also said that she would “begin the quarantine process.”
Later, the press office confirmed that Karoline Leavitt and Chad Gilmartin, two other press office staffers, tested positive as well. Given that the press office has three cases, a source familiar with its working told the Review-Journal, it “will be taking extra precautions,” including advising personnel to telework.
McEnany is one of a number of White House aides and associates who tested positive after traveling with the president and attending a Rose Garden ceremony to announce Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.
The list of Trump associates who tested positive includes first lady Melania Trump; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who coached Trump ahead of last week’s debate; campaign manager Bill Stepien; Republican National Committee head Ronna McDaniels; GOP Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah; and former adviser Kellyanne Conway.
Vice President Mike Pence and wife Karen tested negative Monday before they headed to Utah, where he will participate in the vice presidential debate with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on Wednesday. The four-day trip also will include a Thursday rally in Boulder City.
“To ignore the advice of public health officials to the degree that the campaign has has not been smart. It would have been helpful if they’d learned the lesson once Trump tested positive. It would be wise to heed the warnings,” Republican consultant Alice Stewart told the Review-Journal.
“I completely understand the strategy for an Operation MAGA 30-day push,” she said in reference to an all-out push for the last month of the campaign. “But we’re not in normal campaign circumstances.”