By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Washington: US President Donald Trump briefly left the military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19 in a motorcade on Sunday (Oct 4) to wave to supporters gathered outside, sparking criticism from the medical community that he was putting others at risk.
Trump was captured on video waving from the back seat of a black SUV Sunday evening, wearing a mask, as crowds cheered and waved American flags and pro-Trump banners outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland.
Two people could be seen in the vehicle’s front seats.
Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are generally required to quarantine for 14 days, the typical incubation period for the coronavirus to avoid infecting others. The disease has killed more than 200,000 Americans.
Trump tested positive on Thursday and did not disclose his infection until the early hours of Friday morning.
Shortly before the brief ride, Trump posted a video on Twitter saying he would “pay a little surprise to the some of the great patriots we have out on the street”.
Trump also said in the video that he “learned a lot about COVID” by “really going to school,” as he has battled the virus in hospital.
“This is a real school. This isn’t the ‘let’s read the books school,’ and I get it, and I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing,” he added.
“APPROPRIATE PRECAUTIONS TAKEN”
White House spokesman Judd Deere described the drive as a “short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters” and said Trump quickly returned to his hospital suite.
Deere said “appropriate precautions were taken” before the ride to protect the President and those supporting him. “The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do,” he said.
Criticism of the ride from the medical community was swift, including from an attending physician at Walter Reed.
Experts complained that the outing broke his own government’s public health guidelines requiring patients to isolate while they are in treatment and still shedding virus – and endangered his Secret Service protection.
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” James Phillips, who is also an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University’s medical school said on Twitter.
“They might get sick. They may die. For political theatre. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theatre. This is insanity.”
Zeke Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and regular TV pundit, described the appearance as “shameful.”
“Making his Secret Service agents drive with a COVID-19 patient, with windows up no less, put them needlessly at risk for infection. And for what? A PR stunt,” he tweeted.