President Donald Trump checked out of hospital on Monday after four days of emergency treatment for Covid-19, pulling off his mask the moment he reached the White House and vowing to quickly get back on the campaign trail.
Shortly beforehand, Trump had tweeted that Americans, who have lost nearly 210,000 people to the virus, have nothing to fear.
A series of made-for-TV moments allowed Trump to squeeze the maximum from his medical discharge, starting by exiting alone from the large gold-colored front doors of the Walter Reed military hospital just outside Washington.
Live on television, he then walked in a mask to a limousine, giving the thumb’s up, before boarding the nearby Marine One helicopter for the quick flight to the White House — which he left on Friday after falling ill.
Landing, he walked up the steps onto the South Portico’s stately balcony and demonstratively removed his mask, saluting the departing Marine One.
With less than a month until November 3 election day, polls show Trump behind Democrat Joe Biden and left scrambling even harder by his hospitalization to catch up.
The return to the White House was minutely stage managed to show he is physically fit, while a series of striking tweets demonstrated Trump’s coming angle of political attack — that he personally beat Covid and will now lead the country to its own comeback.
“Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!” he said in one tweet.
“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he said in another, claiming to be feeling rejuvenated after his illness.
But the 74-year-old Republican’s display of bravado came the same day as his own chief spokeswoman tested positive for the virus — the latest in an outbreak raging within the White House.
And despite his claims to be in good health again, a combination of White House secrecy, conflicting information from officials and the viral spread among his own circle, damaged his credibility.
In a briefing from the hospital, presidential physician Sean Conley said Trump is “back” but also said he would not be “entirely out of the woods” for another week.
It wasn’t clear how free Trump will be to move about in the White House’s crowded corridors and small office spaces. The facility, however, has a medical team of its own which will monitor the president in case of relapse.