President Donald Trump has tweeted that he plans to leave Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday evening as the coronavirus continues to spread through the White House.
“Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he wrote in the tweet. “We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
The surprise announcement comes after the president spent the weekend at the hospital after being urgently admitted on Friday. His medical team is believed to brief the public on Trump’s condition at 3 p.m. ET.
Trump is said to be eager to return to the White House as soon as possible while drama continues to mount and speculation swirls about the scale of the virus’s toll on the White House.
On Sunday, Trump’s personal physician, Sean Conley, admitted that he had given an overly rosy perspective of the president’s condition.
“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true,” he said.
Conley admitted that Trump had a “high fever” on Friday and his blood oxygen levels plunged on two occasions, in one case requiring that he be given supplemental oxygen.
The update came after the president’s chief of staff gave an alarming update about the president’s condition, stating off the record that Trump’s condition was “very concerning” and adding that “we’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.” The comments enraged the president and West Wing staffers, according to reports.
On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she, too, tested positive for the virus and would begin the quarantine process. While McEnany had said she previously tested negative a number of times, she has spoken to reporters outside the White House over the weekend, and has not been wearing a mask.
Two other members of the White House press team, Karoline Leavitt and Chad Gilmartin – a relative of McEnany – have also tested positive.
Vice President Mike Pence is not quarantining as the virus spreads through the White House, and is scheduled to travel to Utah to prepare for the Wednesday night vice-presidential debate with Democratic Party rival Sen. Kamala Harris.
Trump has been impatient to return to the White House and was pushing to be discharged on Sunday, according to people close to the events, in part due to his eagerness to prove to the country that he is fully functional and not bedridden by the virus.
However, Trump’s doctors insisted that he not leave the hospital.
He drove slowly past crowds of supporters across from the hospital to reassure them about the state of his health.
James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed and doctor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, called the joyride an example of “insanity.”
“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,” he said in a tweet. “For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”
Medical professionals seem to believe that Trump’s illness may be far more serious than the White House is letting on, especially given that the infectious disease is being treated by a number of experimental drugs and therapeutics that are administered intravenously.
Doctors say that he is undergoing a five-day antiviral treatment regime that includes dexamethasone, a steroid meant to prevent immune system overreactions that have been fatal in other patients as inflammatory response to the disease trigger cascading serious symptoms including blood clots and organ failure. The treatment is typically reserved only for those suffering severe illness.
Due to Trump’s age, 74, physicians have expressed alarm about the possibility that subtle symptoms could persist and eventually give way to pneumonia and severe sickness. Another common early symptom is a drop in mental acuity and periods of confusion.