Doctors for President Donald J. Trump are said to be weighing today whether or not to discharge him from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a day after the president ventured out for a brief COVID-cade to wave to his supporters outside the hospital. [Update: as of 7:45 pm, President Trump left the hospital and has returned to the White House.]
In photos, the president can be seen sitting in the back seat of an SUV, dressed in a suit coat and white shirt with opened collar. He is wearing a mask and waving to well-wishers behind a closed window. Two Secret Service agents riding up front are dressed in full hazmat suits.
Meanwhile, the number of people in the president’s orbit who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus continues to grow. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced early Monday that she has the virus. That brings the total number to 11 people infected that the public is aware of.
Along with First Lady Melania Trump, the others include presidential aide Hope Hicks; assistant to the president Nicholas Luna; Republican senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Ron Johnson (R-WI); former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien; Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
On Sunday, Ms. McEnany told reporters that there were no plans to reveal how many White House staffers have tested positive, out of privacy concerns. CNN reported that several aides have been infected, but the exact number is unknown. Also unknown is what, if anything, is being done in terms of contact tracing.
No contact tracing?
Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s “New Day” program on Monday that the time between being contagious and showing the symptoms of COVID-19 can vary.
People tend to be contagious “usually before they get symptomatic and for a few days thereafter,” Dr.Fauci said.
Since Sept. 25, the president has been to several campaign events, starting in Florida and ending at a roundtable and reception at his Bedminister, N.J., golf club on Oct. 1. He shared a debate stage in Cleveland with Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden on Sept. 29.
Cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise in many states, with 49,500 new cases reported on Oct. 4, according to the website Statista. That brings the total number of U.S. cases to 7.4 million, with almost 210,000 deaths.
On Sunday, the president tweeted that he had “learned a lot about COVID,” right before getting into an SUV for the ride around the medical campus to greet his supporters. According to USA Today, James P. Phillips, MD, an attending physician at Walter Reed, tweeted that everybody in the SUV should be quarantined for 14 days.
“They might get sick. They may die,” he tweeted. “For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”
Dr. Phillips was not alone in his assessment. Jonathan Reiner, MD, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University School of Medicine, tweeted that “[b]y taking a joy ride outside Walter Reed the president is placing his Secret Service detail at grave risk,” according to the Washington Post.
The Post also reported that several current and former Secret Service agents were upset that the president was willing to endanger agents inside the SUV for a publicity stunt. It added that a growing number of agents have been concerned about the president’s cavalier attitude about the health risks agents face when traveling with him in public.
The White House defended the outing, saying that all necessary precautions were taken.