The White House Correspondents Association on Sunday blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpJaime Harrison debates Graham behind plexiglass shield Doctors, White House staff offer conflicting messages on president’s health Trump given second dose of Remdesivir ‘without complication’, ‘not yet out of the woods’, Conley says MORE‘s brief foray out of his hospital room to wave to supporters from an SUV, calling it “outrageous” and criticizing the lack of transparency around the photo op.
“It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing,” WHCA President Zeke Miller said in a statement. “Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health.”
The president Sunday evening tweeted a video in which he said he planned to go say hello to the dozens of supporters who had gathered across the street from the hospital.
Moments later, video emerged of the president’s motorcade passing by, with a masked Trump visible waving from the backseat. The decision triggered immediate safety concerns — and outrage — as the president is infected with a highly contagious virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans.
The pool of reporters that travels with the president whenever he moves from one location to another was not notified of Trump’s drive-by.
“President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are typically required to quarantine for 14 days, which is the incubation period for the virus, to avoid infecting others. Trump first publicized his positive test early Friday morning, and he has been symptomatic since then, meaning he is likely still contagious.
The White House has drawn intense criticism for its lack of transparency and conflicting messages about Trump’s health in recent days. White House doctors gave an optimistic briefing on Saturday morning, only for chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDoctors, White House staff offer conflicting messages on president’s health Trump given second dose of Remdesivir ‘without complication’, ‘not yet out of the woods’, Conley says Trump in video from Walter Reed says he’s feeling good, next few days will be ‘the real test’ MORE to say that the president’s vitals were concerning a day earlier and that he was not yet out of the woods.
White House physician Sean Conley on Sunday acknowledged that he had not been forthcoming about the fact that Trump required supplemental oxygen on Friday, saying he had wanted to deliver an upbeat message.