Washington — President Trump attempted to downplay the severity of COVID-19 on Monday as he prepared to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, tweeting Americans need not “be afraid of COVID.” At nearly the same time, the nationwide death toll surpassed 210,000, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Trump’s suggestion to the nation, where there have been more than 7.4 million confirmed cases, came in a tweet announcing he would be leaving Walter Reed Monday evening.
“Feeling really good!” the president tweeted. “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!”
Later, after he was discharged Monday night, he posted a video on Twitter with a similar message about COVID-19.
“One thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you,” he said of the disease. “Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently. And you’re going to beat it.”
Mr. Trump was admitted to the hospital Friday evening, less than 24 hours after he announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. He spent roughly 72 hours at Walter Reed, where he was under the care of a team of doctors, including White House physician Dr. Sean Conley.
The president’s admittance to Walter Reed on Friday came after he had a high fever and his oxygen level dropped that morning, after which the president was given supplemental oxygen for roughly an hour, Conley said Sunday. Mr. Trump’s oxygen level dropped a second time Saturday while he was at the hospital and he was administered a dose of dexamethasone, a steroid.
Mr. Trump’s medical team said Monday he continues on the dexamethasone and has been given three doses of remdesivir. The fourth dose of remdesivir will be delivered at Walter Reed before he returns to the White House and the fifth dose will be given Tuesday, his doctors told reporters on Monday.
The World Health Organization recommends dexamethasone for patients who are “critically ill” with COVID-19, and remdesivir has been found to shorten the recovery time for patients infected with the coronavirus. Mr. Trump was also treated Friday with a single dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, which is still in a clinical trial.
While the coronavirus spread throughout the U.S. in the spring and into the summer — and the death toll continued to rise — Mr. Trump has repeatedly tried to play down the severity of COVID-19, even telling journalist Bob Woodward he deliberately downplayed the threat of the coronavirus to avoid inciting panic among the American people.
Mr. Trump said last month the U.S. is “rounding the corner” of the pandemic and told supporters at a rally in Ohio the coronavirus affects “virtually nobody.”