President Donald Trump appears to have left Walter Reed on Sunday, a day before doctors said he “might” return to the White House. The decision raised immediate safety concerns, as the president is infected with a highly contagious virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans.
The president tweeted a video in which he said he planned to go say hello to the dozens of supporters who had gathered across the street, waving Trump flags as the president was hospitalized. Moments later, video emerged of the president’s motorcade passing by, with a masked Trump visible waving in the backseat.
Two Secret Service agents could be seen in the vehicle with him. Both were wearing masks.
“I learned a lot about COVID,” saying it was like going to the best school to learn the most about the virus. He also claimed “I get it,” though he didn’t clarify if he now takes the virus seriously.
Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are typically required to quarantine for 14 days, which is the incubation period for the virus, to avoid infecting others. Trump first publicized his positive test early Friday morning, and he has been symptomatic since then, meaning he is likely still contagious.
But Trump appeared motivated to express his appreciation to supporters who had gathered across the street from Walter Reed. The crowd had steadily grown over the last few days, with many waving Trump flags or carrying handmade signs. Reporters spotted one sign that referenced the QAnon conspiracy theory.
In the 73-second video, Trump praised those outside the hospital as “great patriots.”
Watch the video below:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2020
Trump drives by the press and supporters outside Walter Reed hospital. pic.twitter.com/3phtKthqTH
— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) October 4, 2020
The pool of reporters that travels with the president whenever he moves from one location to another was not notified of Trump’s drive-by. White House Correspondents Association President Zeke Miller said in a statement it was “outrageous” for Trump to have left the hospital without a protective pool.
“President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
“Why is a sick President riding in an SUV waving to supporters outside Walter Reed, jeopardizing the Secret Service agents inside the car with him?” presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted.