Donald Trump’s decision to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday so he could be driven past crowds of supporters is coming under intense scrutiny from one of the hospital’s own attending physicians.
Amid reports that his health was on the mend more than two days after he first announced his positive coronavirus test, Trump left his hospital room and had his motorcade drive him past supporters gathered outside. That drew some sharp criticism from Dr. James Phillips, the chief of disaster medicine at the George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine.
The Walter Reed attending physician took to Twitter to take on what he saw as reckless actions from the president that put the lives of U.S. Secret Service agents at risk.
“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,” he tweeted.
Phillips went on to say that Trump’s security team will face quarantine now that they were exposed to someone with the virus.
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity,” he added.
Video showed a dark SUV driving slowly past the crowds that had gathered to support the president. Trump was inside, sitting in a back seat and waving while a driver and another person sat in the front seats. Trump wore a mask, as did the others, but he was less than the recommended six feet from both of the other two people in the vehicle.
Others joined in criticizing what was seen as an unnecessary trip, especially given the touch-and-go situation over the weekend as Trump’s oxygen levels reportedly dropped to the point that he had to be hospitalized.
But other reporters noted that the motorcade trip had first been cleared by physicians, and that there were proper precautions taken in order to keep those around the president safe.
The President’s doctors approved his drive-by supporters outside the hospital this afternoon. “The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do,” @JuddPDeere45 tells CBS News. “Appropriate precautions were taken” to protect the Pres and all supporting his motorcade. pic.twitter.com/FLJQW04HZG
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 5, 2020
Trump has reportedly improved since first being taken to the medical center on Saturday, and could be discharged as early as Monday, though he is expected to continue undergoing treatment while at the White House and is expected to remain quarantined.