Desperate to possibly return to campaign ahead of the November Presidential election, US President Donald Trump said he will on Monday leave the hospital where he has been treated for Covid-19, and told Americans not to be afraid of the disease.
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.
“We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!” he tweeted on Monday.
The tweet came hours after a briefing by Trump’s medical team, who said he had “continued to improve” and could be returned to the White House, which has the facilities to treat and isolate the president, as early as Monday.
The president was flown to Walter Reed with a high fever on Friday after a “rapid progression” of his illness, with his oxygen levels dropping worryingly low, Trump’s physician Sean Conley said in a Sunday briefing.
Health experts have complained that the messaging from the administration — and particularly Trump’s medical team — has caused widespread confusion.
Conley admitted Sunday that he had kept from the public the fact that the president had been given extra oxygen, in a bid to reflect an “upbeat attitude.”
And he gave a rosy account of Trump’s progress Saturday, only for White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to tell reporters immediately after that Trump’s condition had been “very concerning” and that he was “still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
– ‘White House Cluster’ –
With his tough reelection campaign in its final month against Democratic rival Joe Biden, Trump’s diagnosis and hospitalisation have left him sidelined from what he does best — campaigning.
Meanwhile, Biden — who announced Sunday his latest negative test for the virus — will start the week with a trip Monday to key swing state Florida.
But Trump and his advisors have done their best to project a sense of continuity.
His deputy campaign manager Jason Miller told ABC Sunday he had spoken to Trump for a half-hour Saturday and that the president was “cracking jokes.”
But controversy has been mounting over the possibility that Trump might have exposed numerous others to Covid-19 even after a close aide tested positive.
A timeline provided by his advisors and doctors suggested he met more than 30 donors on Thursday in Bedminster, New Jersey, even after learning that Hope Hicks had the virus — and just hours before he announced his own positive test.
There were more than 200 people at the fundraiser, and a contact-tracing operation underway in New Jersey was looking at potentially thousands of people who may have been exposed.
All this came in a week when a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll — taken in the two days after a bruising presidential debate with Biden but before news emerged of Trump’s illness — gave Biden a significant 53-39 percent lead among registered voters.
As well as Trump and Hicks, numerous White House insiders and at least three Republican senators have contracted Covid-19, along with First Lady Melania Trump, who has not experienced severe symptoms.
Public health experts have expressed alarm at the “White House cluster” that has been linked to the September 26 Rose Garden celebration of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.