President Trump says he’s leaving the hospital: ‘I feel better than I did 20 years ago!’

Coronavirus

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday he’s leaving the military hospital where he has been treated for COVID-19 and will continue his recovery at the White House.

He said he’s feeling good and the nation should not be afraid of the virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Trump’s expected return comes as the scale of the outbreak within the White House itself is still being uncovered. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she had tested positive for the virus Monday morning and was entering quarantine.

“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M.,” Trump tweeted. “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. … I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

He is expected to make the journey aboard the presidential helicopter, Marine One.

It was unclear how long Trump would remain in isolation at the White House. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms can be contagious for as many — and should isolate for at least — 10 days.

On Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus.

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.

Trump “is ready to get back to a normal work schedule,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News.

Trump’s experience with the disease has been dramatically different from most Americans, who do not have access to the same kind of monitoring and care. While most must cope with their symptoms — and fear of whether they’ll take a turn for the worse — at home and alone, Trump has been staying in the presidential suite of one of the nation’s best hospitals. He has a team of doctors at the White House, 24-hour monitoring, and has been given experimental drugs not readily available to the public.

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.

Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results came five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump. Biden, who has taken a far more cautious approach to in-person events — and has been mocked repeatedly for it by Trump — had two negative tests on Friday.

Trump’s doctors sidestepped questions on Sunday about exactly when his blood oxygen dropped — episodes they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before — or whether lung scans showed any damage.

It was the second straight day of obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition.

Even before Trump’s motorcade outing on Sunday, some Secret Service agents had expressed concern about the lackadaisical attitude toward masks and social distancing inside the White House, but there isn’t much they can do, according to agents and officials who spoke to The Associated Press. This close to the election, thousands of agents are engaged on protective duty so they can be subbed out quickly should someone test positive.

According to CDC guidelines, in general, transport and movement of a patient with suspected or confirmed infection of the virus that causes COVID-19 “outside of their room should be limited to medically essential purposes.”

The disclosures about Trump’s oxygen levels and steroid treatment suggested the president is enduring more than a mild case of COVID-19.

Signs of pneumonia or other lung damage could be detected in scans before a patient feels short of breath, but the president’s doctors declined to say what those scans have revealed.

Asked about Conley’s lack of transparency, White House aide Alyssa Farah suggested the doctors were speaking as much to the president as to the American public, “when you’re treating a patient, you want to project confidence, you want to lift their spirits, and that was the intent.”

In all, nearly 7.4 million people have been infected in the United States, and few have access to the kind of around-the-clock attention and experimental treatments as Trump.

Trump’s treatment with the steroid dexamethasone is in addition to the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus. Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.

The steroid’s use has only been proven to help in more serious cases. Among the concerns with earlier use is that steroids tamp down certain immune cells, hindering the body’s own ability to fight off infection.

Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications.

First lady Melania Trump has remained at the White House as she recovers from her own bout with the virus.

Many in the White House are also shaken and scared — nervous that they have been exposed to the virus and confronting the reality that what seemed like a bubble of safety has become a COVID-19 hot spot. It took until late Sunday for the White House to send a generic note to staffers suggesting they not come to the building if they do not feel well.

The Latest: Doctor says Trump may not be ‘out of the woods yet’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s health after his COVID-19 diagnosis and hospitalization, and infections of close aides and others (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s medical team says the president “may not entirely be out of the woods yet” as he heads back home to the White House.

Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, delivered an update on the president’s health Monday. Earlier, Trump tweeted that he would be leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday evening after a three-day hospitalization with the coronavirus.

He says Trump “may not entirely be out of the woods yet” but he and the team “agree that all our evaluations and, most importantly, his clinical status support the president’s safe return home, where he’ll be surrounded by world class medical care.”

Doctors say that he will continue to receive his treatments from the White House.

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2:37 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he will be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Monday.

The president said in a Monday afternoon tweet: “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

___

2:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s doctor will be delivering an update on the president’s condition later Monday afternoon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Trump is undergoing treatment for a fourth day for COVID-19.

It has been more than 24 hours since Trump’s physicians last provided an update on his condition, though White House aides said Trump was hopeful to be discharged as soon as Monday afternoon.

Trump sent a number of all-caps tweets Monday morning encouraging supporters to vote, with just weeks until Election Day. But he hasn’t yet appeared in photos or videos released by the White House on Monday.

___

1:45 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says that President Donald Trump’s fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club hours before he announced he had contracted the coronavirus was wrong and “put lives at risk.”

Murphy on Monday called the trip the “wrong decision at every level” and said it should have been canceled.

The state is trying to keep tabs on the 206 attendees and 19 workers in an effort to thwart a potential outbreak stemming from the large gathering Thursday, which included an indoor roundtable with the president and photo opportunities.

White House spokesperson Judd Deere says the president didn’t have any contact with donors or staff that would be considered close, based on the CDC guidelines of longer than 15 minutes and within 6 feet (1.8 meters).

But Dr. Rich Roberts, a pharmaceutical executive from New Jersey who made a video describing the event, said he sat a seat away from Trump during the indoor roundtable that lasted 45 minutes.

___

11:30 a.m.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says she has tested positive for COVID-19. This comes days after President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

McEnany says in a statement that she tested positive Monday morning and is experiencing no symptoms at this time. She spoke briefly with reporters Sunday evening, but says that no members of the White House press corps spent enough time around her to be considered close contacts.

She says that she is beginning the quarantine process and “will continue working on behalf of the American People remotely.”

___

11:20 a.m.

White House officials maintain that President Donald Trump continues to work from the hospital as he battles COVID-19. The White House says the president signed two permits for cross-border petroleum pipeline projects over the weekend, while at his presidential hospital suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Trump signed the permits — for projects running between Montana and Canada, and Texas and Mexico — on Saturday, on his first full day at the military hospital.

Trump has boasted of helping to make the U.S. “energy dominant” and has wide campaign support in the oil and gas industry. He has put an emphasis on pushing through oil and gas pipeline projects throughout his administration, including issuing executive orders and seeking to streamline regulations to override objections from states, tribes or others in the path of the pipelines.

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8:50 a.m.

White House officials say President Donald Trump is anxious to be released from the hospital as early as Monday, after three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he’s being treated for COVID-19.

“This is an important day as the president continues to improve and is ready to get back to a normal work schedule,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News on Monday.

Meadows says the determination on whether Trump would leave the hospital won’t be made until later in the day after the president is evaluated by his medical team.

His doctors revealed on Sunday that Trump’s blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick.

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