WASHINGTON (CN) — President Donald Trump left the Washington hospital where he has been treated for coronavirus the last three days on Monday evening to continue recovering at the White House, where a rapidly increasing succession of staff have tested positive for Covid-19.
Arriving back at the White House, the president walked up the South Portico steps, took off his mask and faced the cameras, holding his two thumbs up before saluting Marine One, which had transported him.
“Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!! The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls,” Trump said in a tweet shortly after his return.
The president, who has routinely downplayed Covid-19 for months as more than 200,000 American died from the disease, said earlier in the day not to be afraid of the deadly respiratory virus.
“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!” Trump said in a tweet.
Trump’s doctors held a press conference at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center shortly after the president broke the news himself about his hospital release.
Dr. Sean Conley said the president had not registered a fever in over 72 hours, but added he “may not be entirely out of the woods yet.”
The physician, who Trump appointed in 2018, refused to tell reporters when the president last tested negative for Covid-19. He also declined to speak on how Trump would safely work from the White House without exposing others and whether he would be returning to the Oval Office.
“He’s up and back to his old self predominantly,” Conley said.
Trump was given supplemental oxygen twice in recent days and on Saturday was on the drug dexamethasone, a steroid typically administered to very sick patients. Conley said Trump would receive the fourth dose of a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir before leaving the hospital Monday, and the fifth from the White House Tuesday.
Asked if he was concerned about a reversal in the president’s condition so soon after his diagnosis, Conley said he will be surrounded by world class medical staff 24/7.
“We all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard because we’re in a bit of uncharted territory when it comes to a patient that received the therapies he has so early in the course,” the president’s physician said.
The announcement that Trump would be leaving the hospital came just hours after White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, after briefing members of the media without wearing a mask the day before.
President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, three GOP senators and a growing list of White House and Trump campaign officials have all revealed they tested positive for the coronavirus.
The outbreak is expected to be linked to the White House Rose Garden event where Trump announced the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last month, during which the majority of the more than 100 guests mingled closely together, hugging and kissing on the cheek, without wearing masks.
McEnany is experiencing no symptoms and had tested negative consistently since Thursday, according to a statement she released Monday morning.
“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms. No reporters, producers, or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit,” she wrote.
Claiming to have no knowledge of Trump aide Hope Hicks’ diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday, McEnany said she will begin quarantining including working remotely.
She was at the White House over the weekend and briefed members of the media without wearing a mask on Sunday. But the press secretary said Monday no members of the White House press corps are considered close contacts, at risk of contracting Covid-19.
Three White House reporters tested positive for the respiratory disease last week, including one who attended the Rose Garden event.
Two members of McEnany’s staff, Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt, reportedly also tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. Gilmartin serves as principal assistant press secretary — and is the cousin of McEnany’s husband, Sean Gilmartin, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays — and Leavitt as assistant press secretary.
Trump, his family and his staff flouted wearing masks during last week’s debate, where the president taunted former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing protective face coverings during campaign events.
Biden told reporters Monday that he was “reluctant” to discuss the president’s health.
Asked whether it will be safe to hold the next presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15, the Democratic nominee said, “I’ll do whatever the experts say.”