Trump Returns to White House After 72 Hours in Hospital for COVID-19

U.S. President Donald Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening after 72 hours of hospitalization for COVID-19.  In a show of fitness, he climbed the steps of the South Portico, standing on the Truman Balcony where he removed his mask, gave a double thumbs-up gesture and saluted the Marine One helicopter as it prepared to take off from the South Lawn. Without putting his facemask back on, the president then walked into the White House where others were awaiting his arrival.Earlier, as he walked out of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,  Trump said, “Thank you very much, everybody.” Stepping off the helicopter and walking toward the White House residence, the president paused to turn to the cameras, waved and gave a thumbs-up. Asked by VOA how he was feeling, a muffled reply of “real good” could be heard.  President Donald Trump gives two thumbs-up on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House, Oct. 5, 2020.Trump’s reelection campaign said the Republican president, trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, plans to participate in the October 15 second debate against the Democratic Party nominee.  “Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations, and most importantly, his clinical status, support his return home” to the White House, which has medical facilities and practitioners to monitor the president around the clock, his primary physician, Dr. Sean Conley, told reporters Monday afternoon.  “Every day a patient stays in the hospital unnecessarily is a risk to themselves,” he added. “Right now, there’s nothing being done upstairs here that we can’t safely conduct down home.”  Before leaving the hospital, the president tweeted, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” adding that he felt better than he did 20 years ago.  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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, center, and other doctors, walk out to talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 5, 2020.Earlier Sunday, the doctors treating the president revealed that their patient had experienced “two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation.”       Conley received word last Thursday evening that both Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus after one of the president’s close aides, Hope Hicks, was confirmed to be ill with the infection.       The doctor declined again on Monday, when pressed by reporters, to answer when Trump last tested negative for COVID-19, something considered important for doing adequate contact tracing to try to limit the spread of the virus.   A member of the cleaning staff, dressed in a protective suit, sprays the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Oct. 5, 2020.“I don’t want to go backwards,” the physician said. “The contact tracing, as I understand it, is being done. I’m not involved with it.”   Trump’s campaign on Friday put a hold on all previously announced events involving the president’s participation.   Vice President Mike Pence is making campaign appearances this week, as well as facing off Wednesday evening against Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.      “As far as travel goes, we’ll see,” Conley replied when asked how soon Trump could get back on the campaign trail with less than a month before the November 3 presidential election.   President Donald Trump arrives back at the White House aboard Marine One, Oct. 5, 2020, after being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.Doctors said it is important to ensure that the president is no longer shedding virus and that he is in good enough physical shape before getting medical permission to travel.   Trump and Biden were about 4 meters apart on a debate stage last Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests at least 2 meters for social distancing purposes.     Biden’s campaign said the former vice president tested negative Friday for the coronavirus. A test on Sunday was also negative.     The coronavirus has killed 210,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 7.5 million across the country, according to Johns Hopkins University data.