WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump, who doctors said isn't "out of the woods," left hospital on Monday evening for the White House that has been overshadowed by COVID-19 infections.
Three days after being admitted into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland following a positive test result, Trump, dressed in a dark suit and wearing a mask, walked out of one of the hospital's buildings while giving thumbs up to the press for a Marine One trip to the presidential residence.
The departure came only hours after White House physician Sean Conley told reporters that Trump "has continued to improve" and "met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria" in another rosy assessment of the president's condition.
The doctor, however, also acknowledged that Trump "may not be entirely out of the woods yet." At age 74 and clinically obese, the patient is at a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19 that has infected 7.45 million people and killed more than 210,000 in the United States.
Trump appeared eager to leave Walter Reed, a top U.S. medical facility, reportedly arguing to people close to him that being hospitalized "makes him look weak." To project strength and show him doing well, the president took a motorcade ride to greet his supporters outside the hospital on Sunday. Besides, he posted video clips of speeches on Twitter, while the White House shared pictures of him working during treatment.
Upon returning to the White House, Trump walked up the steps to the Truman Balcony, which overlooks the South Lawn, where he removed his mask and offered a salute to Marine One in front of cameras before moving inside.
"We're going back. We're going back to work. We're gonna be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there's danger to it but I had to do it," Trump said in a new video. "I learned so much about coronavirus. And one thing that's for certain. Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it. We're gonna beat it."
Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law and director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, criticized Trump, who may remain infectious only days into his COVID-19 diagnosis, for taking off his mask at the White House, a move that could endanger the health and safety of his staff.
"It was disconcerting to see the president on the @WhiteHouse balcony in proximity to staff when he is supposed to be strictly self-isolating," Gostin tweeted. "If it is true that he removed his mask, it is hard to understand. He is setting a bad example to the public and placing others at risk."
It is not yet clear when and how Trump became infected with the virus. The president announced the diagnosis on Oct. 2 after confirming White House counselor Hope Hicks, who had traveled with him multiple times in the past week, had caught the disease. His doctors have declined to reveal the last time he tested negative.
While Trump, who has taken antiviral drug Remdesivir and anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone, will continue to receive treatment at the White House, physical access to him will be "significantly limited" and appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) will be worn when near him, according to a statement, adding that the president will continue to receive "around-the-clock medical care and monitoring" from his physician and a team of doctors and nurses.
A White House employee was seen sanitizing the press briefing room wearing a full white suit with a hood, gloves and protective eyewear on Monday night.
Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that though it's unlikely Trump would experience "a reversal" in his disease progression, the president and the medical team "need to be heads up for it."
"He knows it. The physicians know it. So they're going to keep an eye out on it. They're going to try and do that within the confines of the White House as opposed to in the hospital," said Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force. "You're not out of it until you've gotten several days out and doing well."
Meanwhile, a growing number of individuals in Trump's orbit have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, his reelection campaign manager Bill Stepien, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who helped the president prepare for the first presidential debate against 2020 Democratic nominee and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last week.
Besides, many individuals who attended a White House ceremony to introduce Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26 have also contracted the virus. According to The New York Times, the White House has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at the Rose Garden event. Enditem