US President Trump, who has COVID-19, waves to supporters on a brief drive outside the Walter Reed hospital where he is being treated [Alex Edelman/AFP]

Despite testing positive for coronavirus, Trump thought it was okay to step out of the hospital in an enclosed SUV with around two people with him.
Last Updated: October 5, 2020, 3:49 PM IST


US President Donald Trump, who tested positive for coronavirus and had to be hospitalised last week, stepped out from the hospital briefly to wave to his supporters. The move has been seen as the President continuing to disregard basic precautions to contain the virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Hours earlier, Trump’s medical team reported that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. The doctors also said Trump’s health is improving and that he could be discharged as early as Monday.

Yet, Trump thought it was okay to step out of the hospital in an enclosed SUV with around two people with him. His actions may very well have put members of the Secret Service at risk unnecessarily.

Trump, since the beginning of the pandemic, has downplayed the risks of the virus. In fact, a few days before he tested positive for coronavirus, he said it virtually affects nobody. Despite the World Health Organisation and Centre of Diseases Control repeatedly issuing warnings on how to keep the virus at bay, Trump condemned the use of masks and even mocked those who wore it. The first time Trump was spotted wearing a mask in public was in July when the pandemic had already affected 3.2 million Americans.

In a short video released by the White House, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. “I get it,” he said. But does he, really? His actions moments later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, suggested otherwise.

READ: Donald Trump Testing Positive for Coronavirus Has Only One Lesson – Wear a Mask

READ: Trump Says ‘I Get It’ after Covid-19 Diagnosis, Then Briefly Leaves Hospital to Greet Supporters

“This is insanity,” Dr James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed who is a critic of Trump and his handling of the pandemic. “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die.”

“For political theater,” the doctor added. “Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater.”

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump’s trip outside the hospital “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” He added that precautions were taken, including using personal protective equipment, to protect Trump as well as White House officials and Secret Service agents.

Trump’s “stunt”, as it is being called, did not really have its intended effect. This is how Twitter reacted to it:

Trump demanded his agents to take him for a drive, risking their lives, so he can wave to his supporters. Insane doesn’t come close.

— Henrik Brønning 🇪🇺 #3.5% #Biden2020 (@br_nning) October 5, 2020

TRUMP: Aye, take me (*cough*) round the block right quick (*cough*) so I can (*cough*) so I can (*cough*) so i can wave at errbody


— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) October 4, 2020

Seven months into global pandemic that’s killed 200,000 Americans, Trump says he now “understands” COVID after contracting it, and then immediately gets into a car with a least 2 other people to wave at people

— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) October 4, 2020

Infected Trump ignores CDC advice and takes a joyride to wave at unmasked non-socially distanced Trump loyalists, potentially exposing several Secret Service agents to #COVID19.

Trump loyalist screams: “God bless our president, I will die for him!!”

— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) October 4, 2020

“I get it,” Trump says regarding the severity of the virus, before packing into a car with Secret Service agents and exposing them to the virus so that he could wave to 12 people on the side of the road.

— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) October 4, 2020

Cool of Trump to put his secret service detail at risk of getting covid so that he can wave at the proud boys and QAnon fans outside of Walter Reed

— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) October 4, 2020

Trump has gotten in a car so he can wave to supporters outside Walter Reed. As you can see from footage, this meant multiple agents riding in a car with Trump while he carries the coronavirus

— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) October 4, 2020

Moreover, updates about Trump’s health have been really vague so far.

His doctors sidestepped questions on Sunday about exactly when Trump’s blood oxygen dropped — an episode they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before — or whether lung scans showed any damage.

It was the second straight day of obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition.

(With inputs from AP)