/Imagine having a literal COVID parade: Critics react after Trump leaves Walter Reed to see supporters

Imagine having a literal COVID parade: Critics react after Trump leaves Walter Reed to see supporters

WASHINGTON – Doctors, critics, and other Twitter users reacted after President Donald Trump ventured outside Walter Reed Hospital Sunday night to wave at supporters,  calling the move “reckless” and saying he endangered the Secret Service members riding in the vehicle with him.

Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, tweeted that everybody in the vehicle with Trump should be quarantined for 14 days. 

“They might get sick. They may die,” he tweeted. “For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

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“That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play,” Dr. Phillips, who is also the Chief of Disaster Medicine at George Washington University Emergency Medicine, continued.

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White House spokesman Judd Deere told USA TODAY that “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people who are sick or have recently come in contact with a COVID-19 patient should avoid all transportation options “that may put them in close contact with others.” 

“Imagine having a literal COVID parade,” tweeted Meena Harris, niece of Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.

Jonathan Reiner, professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University, called it a “joy ride” that put Trump’s “Secret Service detail at grave risk.”

“In the hospital when we go into close contact with a COVID patient we dress in full PPE: Gown, gloves, N95, eye protection, hat,” he said. “This is the height of irresponsibility.”

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Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tweeted it was criminal negligence” for Trump “to recklessly expose others.”

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The White House Correspondents Association weighed in with a statement, criticizing the move as a lid had been placed on presidential activities for the day, and the White House pool was not given prior notice of the drive-by.

“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.”

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The White House has drawn intense criticism for its conflicting messages and lack of transparency regarding Trump’s health and treatment.

“He tear gassed peaceful protestors for a photo op with a Bible. He put the lives of Secret Service agents at risk for a photo op joyride in his SUV,” tweeted former Rep. Joe Walsh, who briefly challenged Trump in the Republican primary.

Trump also said in his video remarks that he visited some of the soldiers and first responders at Walter Reed, raising questions about whether he should be in contact with others when federal health guidance directs those infected with COVID-19 to quarantine and isolate themselves from other people. 

“It’s been a very interesting journey, I learned a lot about COVID,” Trump said in pre-recorded remarks. “I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book school, and I get it, and I understand it.”

According to John Hopkins University, nearly 210,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and the country hit its highest daily rate of new cases in almost two months.