President Trump on Sunday greeted supporters outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from his motorcade, leaving his hospital suite to make a “surprise” visit despite undergoing treatment for the coronavirus.
The president Sunday evening tweeted a video in which he said he planned to go say hello to the dozens of supporters who had gathered across the street from the hospital.
Moments later, video emerged of the president’s motorcade passing by, with a masked Trump visible waving from the backseat. The decision triggered immediate safety concerns — and outrage — as the president is infected with a highly contagious virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans.
Two Secret Service agents could be seen in the vehicle with him. Both were wearing masks.
That’s Trump driving by his supporters outside Walter Reed military hospital. pic.twitter.com/eqA0RGkr6A
— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) October 4, 2020
The pool of reporters that travels with the president whenever he moves from one location to another was not notified of Trump’s drive-by. White House Correspondents Association President Zeke Miller said in a statement it was “outrageous” for Trump to have left the hospital without a protective pool.
“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,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are typically required to quarantine for 14 days, which is the incubation period for the virus, to avoid infecting others. Trump first publicized his positive test early Friday morning, and he has been symptomatic since then, meaning he is likely still contagious.
“Why is a sick President riding in an SUV waving to supporters outside Walter Reed, jeopardizing the Secret Service agents inside the car with him?” presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted.
James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, tweeted that the drive-by photo op was “insanity.”
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential “drive-by” just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” he tweeted. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. This is insanity.”
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