As Trump prepares to leave Walter Reed, experts weigh in on the administration's contempt for basic safety measures.
Donald Trump announced Monday that he's leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after three nights spent undergoing coronavirus treatment — but medical professionals around the country say that's a terrible idea.
"I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 p.m.," Trump tweeted Monday afternoon. "Feeling really good! Don't be afraid of COVID. Don't let it dominate your life."
Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare and a West Michigan emergency physician, told the American Independent Foundation the example Trump is setting is dangerous.
"In leaving, he is claiming victory ... continuing to downplay it, telling people don't be afraid, we have to live our lives ... and we're going to have more people die because of it," Davidson said.
He noted that Trump's age bracket and clinical obesity means the White House occupant "has a relatively high risk of death, let alone serious complications."
Trump received a number of treatments that are "generally reserved for people who are moderately to severely ill, and yet he's still deciding to blow it off," Davidson added.
Trump's physician Sean Conley held a press conference Monday afternoon in which he refused to disclose when Trump's last negative test was and defended Trump's decision to leave the hospital.
Davidson said it's misleading nonsense.
"We tell our patients to isolate for 7 days from when you tested positive ... so (Trump) should not come out of isolation till Thursday at the earliest," he said. "He's going to put White House staff at risk, Secret Service at risk. Per CDC guidelines, he is breaking (the) rules."
Davidson added that it was equally careless of Trump to take a joyride while still inpatient to wave at assembled crowds outside the hospital.
"It's silly theatrics, it's pointless, it's him putting people at risk for the sake of his own ego," Davidson said. "Why put these people who are sworn to protect you at any risk if you don't have to?"
Other medical professionals also condemned Trump's ride in the hermetically sealed SUV.
Zeke Emanuel, vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, tweeted that Trump's irresponsibility is "seemingly endless."
"Making his Secret Service agents drive with a COVID-19 patient, with windows up no less, put them needlessly at risk for infection. And for what? A PR stunt," he said. "It's shameful. These agents already risk their lives daily."
Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University, took to Twitter to decry Trump's actions, noting that Trump is "still infectious," violating quarantine guidelines, infecting Secret Service members, and endangering everyone in the vehicle due to its closed nature.
Medical professionals have also pointed to the catastrophic recklessness of Trump hosting a live event in the Rose Garden on Sept. 26 to announce the SCOTUS nomination of Amy Coney Barrett — without requiring masks.
Davidson said it almost certainly contributed to the White House coronavirus outbreak.
"All of public health is about risk and mitigating risk," he said. "(And) not knowing if anyone there was positive ... it was a high-risk event that had the potential to be a super-spreader event."
He added that given the number of attendees who have tested positive, "it's undeniable that at least some of those people contracted the virus there."
And in any case, Davidson added, any contact tracer would consider it a significant event.
"Partially indoors ... no masks, it (was) ridiculously reckless," he said. "(It's) both dangerous and setting a bad example, so more events like this will happen because they figure if (the White House) can do it, I can do it."
This virus is very real, he said.
"It's here in rural Michigan, Trump country, and these people are taking his lead and watching what he does, and guess what? (Now) we're getting a lot of sick people," Davidson said. "It's not a mystery why this is happening."
He added that if Trump had endorsed mask-wearing early on in the pandemic, "we would have half the deaths."
Epidemiologist Eleanor Murray of Boston University agreed the outbreak likely originated in the Rose Garden.
"It seems pretty clear that probably somebody was infectious, tested negative, was allowed to go about their business, wasn't wearing a mask, and therefore was able to spread the virus to Trump and others," Murray said.
But it seems that once again, the GOP won't be heeding their own cautionary tale, and it's back to science-denying business as usual for Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.