WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump checked out of hospital on Monday after four days of emergency treatment for COVID-19, pulling off his mask the moment he reached the White House and vowing to quickly get back on the campaign trail.
Shortly beforehand, Trump had tweeted that Americans — who have lost nearly 210,000 people to the virus — have nothing to fear.
A series of made-for-TV moments allowed Trump to squeeze the maximum from his medical discharge, starting by exiting alone from the large gold-coloured front doors of the Walter Reed military hospital just outside Washington.
Live on television, he then walked in a mask to a limousine, giving the thumbs up, before boarding Marine One helicopter for the quick flight to the White House — which he left on Friday after falling ill.
After landing, he walked up the steps onto the South Portico’s stately balcony, demonstratively removed his mask and offered a 23-second salute to the departing Marine One.
The return to the White House was minutely stage-managed to show he is physically fit, while a series of striking tweets demonstrated Trump’s coming angle of political attack: that he personally beat COVID and will now lead the country to its own comeback.
Trump pushed out a new, unfiltered message to Americans: “Don’t let it dominate your life — get out there, be careful,” Trump said in a tweeted video.
The 74-year-old Republican’s display of bravado came the same day that his own chief spokeswoman tested positive — the latest in a viral outbreak raging within the White House.
And despite his claims to be in good health again, a combination of secrecy, conflicting information from officials and the viral spread among his own circle damaged his credibility.
In a briefing at Walter Reed, presidential physician Sean Conley said Trump is “back” but that he would not be “entirely out of the woods” for another week.