'Don’t be afraid' of virus, Trump says as he prepares to leave hospital

Steve Holland and Susan Heavey, Reuters

Posted at Oct 06 2020 04:48 AM

'Don’t be afraid' of virus, Trump says as he prepares to leave hospital 1
US President Donald Trump participates in a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley October 4, 2020, in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Not shown in the photo also in the room on the call is Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Tia Dufour/The White House/Handout via Reuters

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said he will leave a military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19 later on Monday, and urged people not to be afraid of the disease, which has killed more than a million people worldwide and wreaked economic havoc.

Despite a wave of coronavirus infections that has torn through the White House four weeks before the US presidential election, Trump said he was feeling well and would leave the hospital later in the afternoon after a three-day stay.

"I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!" he said on Twitter.

Trump, 74, had a high fever and received supplemental oxygen after his blood oxygen levels dropped on Friday, according to his medical team. Doctors have been treating him with a steroid, dexamethasone, that is normally used only in the most severe cases.

"Over the past 24 hours, the president's condition has continued to improve," Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, told reporters in a briefing outside the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

Trump does not have any respiratory complaints, but Conley said he "may not entirely be out of the woods yet." He added that the president would be surrounded by world-class medical care around the clock at the White House.

Trump was reluctant to go to the hospital last week and is eager to get out, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters earlier on Monday.

Even if discharged, he will need to continue treatment as he is still undergoing a five-day course of an intravenous antiviral drug, remdesivir. The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the novel coronavirus is 14 days.

Trump has frequently downplayed the threat of the pandemic which has infected 7.4 million Americans. In recent days, he released a series of videos to reassure the public he is recovering from the disease caused by the virus.

The coronavirus outbreak around Trump, however, widened on Monday when White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she had tested positive for the virus.

McEnany, a well-known figure at the forefront of the White House's often combative dealings with the media, held a briefing for reporters on Thursday in which she did not wear a face mask.

Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt, who work in the White House's press office, also have tested positive, a source confirmed to Reuters.