President Trump walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and returned to the White House on Monday, following three days of treatment for the coronavirus.
Trump exited the facility’s front door and gave a thumbs up as he departed Bethesda, Maryland, the same way as he’d arrived Friday, aboard the Marine One helicopter.
“Thank you very much everybody,” Trump said toward reporters before taking a short SUV ride from the hospital door to the helicopter, which flew back to the White House South Lawn.
Trump’s supporters cheered outside the hospital as the helicopter lifted off.
Back at the White House, Trump climbed the stairs from the lawn and stood at the top of the balcony. He faced the helicopter and took off his mask, putting it in his pocket before saluting and giving a double thumbs-up toward cameras in the distance.
“He’s back,” Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, told reporters at a press conference hours earlier outside the hospital.
Conley said Trump, 74, was “back to his old self” but “may not be entirely out of the woods” while still experiencing the virus that infected 7.4 million Americans and killed 210,000 since March.
Donald Trump gives a thumbs up after arriving at the White House.AP
Trump received experimental “polyclonal antibodies” and oxygen at the White House on Friday. At the hospital, he received doses of the antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone.
Conley would not tell reporters the results of Trump’s lung scans, but said ” he has not been on any fever reducing medications for over 72 hours.” Conley said Trump’s vital signs were great and he had no more respiratory complaints.
Trump took a break from his presidential hospital suite Sunday for drive-by visit to supporters rallying near the hospital and broke the news he was going home in a tweet Monday where he declared he was “feeling really good.”
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” he told his 86 million followers. “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 president’s physicians defended the decision to release him after just three nights in the hospital, saying that he was returning to world-class medical care at the White House.
“If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving, better yet, then we will all take that final deep sigh of relief,” Conley said. “There’s nothing that’s being done upstairs here that we can’t safely conduct down there.”
First lady Melania Trump, who also became infected, stayed behind at the White House where she is quarantining in the executive residence.
Trump’s White House medical team said they became concerned Friday after his oxygen levels dropped twice and his fever spiked.
“Thursday night into Friday morning when I left the bedside, the president was doing well with only mild symptoms and his oxygen was in the high 90s,” Conley said Sunday. “Friday morning when I returned to the bedside, the president had a high fever and his oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94 percent.”
Worried about the “possible rapid progression of the illness,” Conley said Trump was brought to Walter Reed.
Trump’s reelection campaign said the president is anxious to get back to the stump as the election enters a critical period with less than a month to go before the Nov. 3 vote.
Trump is scheduled to debate Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, for a second time on Oct. 15 in Miami and campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNN Monday that “it is the president’s intention to debate.”
“Once he gets out of the hospital, he’s ready to get back to the campaign trail,” senior campaign advisor Jason Miller told NBC. “He sounded pretty energetic.”
Trump tweeted before he left Walter Reed, “Will be back on the campaign trail soon!!” He returns to the White House as the number of aides also infected in the past week continues to grow.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany disclosed she tested positive. At least two other White House press aides and three White House journalists were infected in the past week, as was senior adviser Hope Hicks and “body man” Nick Luna.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel also disclosed positive infections, as did three Republican senators — Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — and various attendees of a Sept. 26 White House Rose Garden event where Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.