US President Donald Trump has urged Americans to “get out there” and not let the coronavirus “dominate” their lives after returning from his three-day stint in hospital.
He also suggested he might be “immune” to COVID-19 after he left hospital today and returned to the White House.
Before entering the White House, Mr Trump removed his face mask and filmed a 90-second long message, which he posted online a short time later.
“I just left Walter Reed Medical Centre, and it’s really something very special. The doctors, the nurses, the first responders. And I learned so much about coronavirus,” he said.
“And one thing that’s for certain. Don’t let it dominate you. 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.
“I went, I didn’t feel so good. And two days ago – I could have left two days ago. Two days ago I felt great, like, better than I’ve felt in a long time. As I said just recently, better than 20 years ago.
“Don’t let it dominate. Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen. We have the greatest country in the world. We’re going back, we’re going back to work. We’re going to be out front.
“As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front, I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s OK.
“But now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there, be careful. We have the best medicines in the world.
“The vaccines are coming momentarily. Thank you very much.”
The President also posted a bombastic, campaign-style video featuring images of his brief trip from Walter Reed to the White House.
The current coronavirus death toll in the United States is 215,000.
Mr Trump tested positive for the virus on Thursday, US time. He was taken to hospital the next day after his oxygen levels fell, prompting doctors to give him supplemental oxygen.
The President has been treated with a number of medications, including an antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron, which is still in the clinical trial phase and is not available to the broader American public.
Mr Trump’s video message followed his decision to leave hospital and return to the White House, where he will continue to be treated.
He emerged from the front doors of Walter Reed at 6:40pm, local time and flashed a thumbs up to the cameras before getting into his car.
“Mr President, how many staff are sick? How many of your staff are sick?” a reporter asked as Mr Trump walked past.
“Thank you very much everyone,” the President said.
“Do you think you might be a superspreader, Mr President?” the reporter shouted after him.
He gave no indication that he had heard the question.
The motorcade took Mr Trump to his helicopter, Marine One. He boarded it with a wave, and a short time later landed on the White House lawn.
When he reached the White House’s balcony, the President turned and waved again. He removed his face mask, saluted Marine One as it left, and then filmed the video before wandering inside, still maskless.
Mr Trump had revealed his intention to leave hospital on Twitter earlier in the day, saying he was “feeling really good”.
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today,” he said.
“Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.
“We have developed, under the Trump administration, some really great drugs and knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
He promised to return to the campaign trail soon.
Mr Trump also shared quotes from an opinion piece in The New York Post, written by Australian Miranda Devine, which hailed his “bravery”.
“If the President bounces back onto the campaign trail, he will be an invincible hero, who not only survived every trick the Democrats threw at him, but the Chinese virus as well,” Devine wrote.
“Thank you Miranda. Was over until the plague came in from China. Will win anyway!” Mr Trump said approvingly.
We should note that the President is still sick, and the most dangerous phase of the virus tends to be around 7-10 days after a patient develops symptoms. Mr Trump started to report symptoms four days ago, on the day he tested positive.
The President’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, endorsed his decision to leave hospital today.
“Though he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all his evaluations and, most importantly, his clinical status support his return home, where he’ll be surrounded by world class medical care 24/7,” Dr Conley told reporters in his most recent briefing on Mr Trump’s condition today.
He said it had been more than 72 hours since Mr Trump last had a fever, and his oxygen levels were normal.
“Over the past 24 hours, the President had continued to improve. He’s met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria,” said Dr Conley.
“He’ll receive another dose of remdesivir here today, and then we plan to get him home.”