BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — President Donald Trump hoped for a Monday discharge from the military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19, a day after he briefly ventured out while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.
The scale of the outbreak within the White House itself was still being uncovered as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she tested positive for the virus Monday morning and was entering quarantine. Trump’s doctors have not released an update on his condition since Sunday morning.
White House officials said Trump was anxious to be released after three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors revealed on Sunday that his blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. Still, the doctors said Trump’s health was improving and he could be discharged as early as Monday to continue the remainder of his treatment at the White House.
Trump “is ready to get back to a normal work schedule” and was optimistic about a Monday release, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News. He said a determination would be made after further evaluation by his medical team later Monday.
Less than one month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, riding by Sunday in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear.
The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fueled confusion about Trump’s health, which has imperiled the leadership of the U.S. government and upended the final stages of the presidential campaign. While Trump’s physician offered a rosy prognosis on his condition, his briefings lacked basic information, including the findings of lung scans, or were quickly muddled by more serious assessments of the president’s health by other officials.
In a short video released by the White House on Sunday, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions moments later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, suggested otherwise.
McEnany spoke briefly with reporters Sunday evening without wearing a mask, but said that no members of the White House press corps spent enough time around her to be considered close contacts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best evidence is that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 aren’t contagious about 10 days after symptom onset. People with more severe disease likely are contagious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset, according to those guidelines. That means isolation — whether in the hospital or at home — is supposed to last for at least 10 days.
Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus