UPDATED, with comments from WHCA: Donald Trump took a brief trip in a black SUV to wave at supporters gathered near Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but the photo op quickly raised concerns about the safety of the security detail traveling with him.
He sent out a video beforehand in which he said, “I’m about to make a little surprise visit, so perhaps I will get there before you get to see me.”
He added, “I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This isn’t a ‘let’s read the book’ school. And I get it and I understand it. And it is a very interesting thing. I am going to be letting you know about it.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2020
“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,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.
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Trump’s drive by quickly drew concerns that, by riding in an SUV while suffering from the coronavirus, he was putting Secret Service agents at risk, even though they could be seen wearing masks.
Dr. James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, wrote, “That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play.”
That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play.
— Dr. James P. Phillips, MD (@DrPhillipsMD) October 4, 2020
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley told reporters on Sunday that Trump may be released from Walter Reed as early as Monday if his condition continues to improve.
Zeke Miller, president of the White House Correspondents Association, sent out a statement to reporters also expressing concern that there was not alert given to the White House pool.
“It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing,” Miller said. “Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health.”