President Trump appeared in public Friday evening for the first time since being stricken by COVID-19, boarding his Marine One helicopter for a flight to a military hospital.
The White House said the visit of a few days to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was precautionary and that President Trump would continue to work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to keep up his official duties.
The President walked out of the White House and gave a thumbs-up but did not speak. Members of the aircrew, Secret Service agents, and White House staff wore face coverings to protect themselves from the president on board the helicopter.
Trump remains in good spirits, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day, said press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the president will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days.
Earlier Friday the White House said President Trump had been injected with an experimental antibody cocktail by the White House physician.
Just a month before the presidential election, Trump’s revelation that he was positive for the COVID-19 came by a tweet about 1 a.m. after he had returned from a political fundraiser.
He had gone ahead, saying nothing to the crowd though knowing he had been exposed to an aide with the disease that has infected millions in America and killed more than a million people worldwide.
Melania Trump also tested positive, the president said, and several others in the White House have, too, prompting concern that the White House or even Trump himself might have spread the virus further.
Trump’s physician said in a memo late Friday that Trump received a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail by Regeneron that is in clinical trials. Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley said Trump remains fatigued but in good spirits and that a team of experts was evaluating both Trump and Melania in regard to the next steps.
Trump’s diagnosis was sure to have a destabilizing effect in Washington and around the world, raising questions about how far the virus has spread through the highest levels of the US government. Hours before Trump announced he had contracted the virus, the White House said a top aide who had traveled with him during the week had tested positive.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately, Trump tweeted just before 1 a.m. We will get through this TOGETHER!
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday tried to assure the public that Trump was conducting business as usual, even as he confirmed that the White House knew Hope Hicks, the aide, had tested positive before Trump attended a Thursday fundraiser in New Jersey.
Many White House and senior administration officials were undergoing tests Friday, but the full scale of the outbreak around the president may not be known for some time as it can take days for an infection to be detectable by a test. Officials with the White House Medical Unit were tracing the president’s contacts.
Trump’s reelection campaign said it was putting on hold all events featuring Trump and members of his family but that Pence would resume campaigning since he tested negative.
Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House on Thursday evening and did not appear ill. He is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at a higher risk of serious complications from a COVID-19 that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide.
In a tweet Friday morning, Biden said he and his wife send our thoughts to President Trump and Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.
World leaders offered the president and first family their best wishes after their diagnosis, as governments used their case as a reminder for their citizens to wear masks and practice social distancing measures.
Trump’s announcement came hours after he confirmed that Hicks, one of his most trusted and longest-serving aides, had been diagnosed with the virus Thursday.
Trump is far from the first world leader to test positive for the virus, which previously infected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent a week in the hospital, including three nights in intensive care. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was hospitalized last month while fighting what he called a hellish case of COVID-19.