WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Trump has returned to the White House after spending 3 days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center battling COVID-19.
He immediately ignited a new controversy by declaring that despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans – and then he entered the White House without a protective mask.
Trump’s message alarmed infectious disease experts and suggested the president’s own illness had not caused him to rethink his often-cavalier attitude toward the disease, which has also infected the first lady and several White House aides, including new cases revealed on Monday.
The president left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where his doctor, Navy Cdr. Sean Conley, said earlier Monday that the president remains contagious and would not be fully “out of the woods” for another week but that Trump had met or exceeded standards for discharge from the hospital.
Trump is expected to continue his recovery at the White House, where the reach of the outbreak that has infected the highest levels of the U.S. government is still being uncovered.
Still Trump indicated he won’t be kept from campaigning for long, tweeting before leaving the hospital, “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!”
Trump made a point of sounding confident earlier. He tweeted, “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. ... I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
This is a developing story. Read below for live updates throughout the day:
8:25 p.m. EDT
Speaking at an NBC News town hall, Trump's opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, was asked for his reaction to the president's return to the White House, specifically his removal of his mask as soon as he got up the White House stairs.
"I would hope," Biden said, "that the President having gone through what he went through – and I'm glad he seems to be coming along pretty well – would communicate the right lesson to the American people: Masks matter. These masks, they matter."
Biden also slammed President Trump's comments telling people not to fear COVID-19.
"There's a lot to be concerned about. 210,000 people have died. You have, you know, about 1,000 people a day getting the coronavirus," Biden said. "So, it's a great concern. I hope no one walks away with the message thinking that it is not a problem. It's a serious problem. It's an international pandemic, and we have 4% of the population and 20% of the deaths."
8:15 p.m. EDT
President Trump posted two video updates to Twitter after he returned to the White House.
The first was a cinematic video set to triumphant music, showing the president returning on Marine One.
In the second, Trump said he learned "so much" about coronavirus, urging his followers to not be afraid of COVID-19, reiterating his claim from a Twitter post before he left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"Don't let it dominate you," he said. "Don't be afraid of it. You're gonna beat it."
He then went on to say that the U.S. has the "best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently."
"Don't let it dominate. Don't let it take over your lives. Don't let it happen," Trump said.
7:45 p.m. EDT
President Trump walked up the stairs to the White House, removed his mask, and stood in front of open doors and American flags for photos.
Landing at the White House on Marine One, Trump gingerly climbed the South Portico steps, removed his mask and declared, “I feel good.”
He gave a double thumbs-up to the departing helicopter from the portico terrace, where aides had arranged American flags for the sunset occasion. He entered the White House, where aides were visible milling about the Blue Room, without wearing a face covering.
6:57 p.m. EDT
Marine One has landed on White House lawn.
6:45 p.m. EDT
President Trump has left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, walking out of the building wearing a mask. He ignored shouted questions that asked how many of his staff have tested positive for COVID-19, saying "thank you very much" to the gathered reporters.
Lights had been set up to illuminate the scene for cameras.
He gave a thumbs-up entering the SUV set to take him to Marine One, which will fly him back home to the White House.
6:30 p.m. EDT
Shortly before leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump posted to Twitter that he will "be back on the Campaign Trail soon."
6:09 p.m. EDT
Thirteen staff members from an iconic Minneapolis steakhouse were self-quarantining after the restaurant catered a fundraiser attended by President Donald Trump during his visit to Minnesota last week, the restaurant said Monday.
The 13 worked for Murray’s Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, which catered the fundraiser on Wednesday at the Lake Minnetonka home of Marty Davis, CEO of the quartz countertop manufacturer Cambria Co. LLC. About 40 contributors paid $200,000 a couple or $100,000 per person for the chance to meet the president and hear him speak.
“Our staff was there to work the party only and at no point did any staff come in close proximity to the president,” the restaurant said in a statement. “Upon learning of the president’s positive COVID-19 test, we immediately enacted a 14-day quarantine for all staff who worked the party. Additionally, each staff member who worked the party will be tested for COVID-19.”
Murray’s, a family owned restaurant since 1946, is famous as “Home of the Silver Butter Knife Steak.” It’s popular among the city’s movers and shakers and sports figures. A spokesman for the restaurant, Chuck Sanger, said the restaurant is still able to operate normally despite the quarantine.
4:32 p.m. EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has again tested negative for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson.
Speaker Pelosi told MSNBC earlier Monday that she was tested for coronavirus, and was later informed of the result by Dr. Brian Monahan, the Attending Physician at the U.S. Capitol.
4:25 p.m. EDT
At a campaign event in Miami, former Vice President Joe Biden, wearing a mask, said he "was glad to see the President speaking and recording videos over the weekend."
"Now that he's busy tweeting campaign messages," Biden said, "I would ask him to do this: listen to the scientists."
Meanwhile, though the Senate will not be in session through Oct. 19 due to health concerns, the first confirmation hearing for President Trump's nominee Amy Coney Barrett has been scheduled for Oct. 12.
3:46 p.m. EDT
Speaking to WAMC radio in Albany, New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) said that Trump's decision to leave the hospital is "his politics at the expense of public health."
"He's denied it all along. Now he gets it," Cuomo said. "What do you say when you get it? It's nothing! Tell that to the 210,000 families who have died of COVID."
3:40 p.m. EDT
On the heels of President Trump's surprise announcement that he will be leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Monday at 6:30 p.m. EDT, Dr. Sean Conley, the president's physician, said that while Trump "may not entirely be out of the woods yet," doctors feel comfortable sending him back to the White House.
"Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations and most importantly his clinical status support the president's safe return home where he'll be surrounded by world-class medical care 24/7," Dr. Conley said.
When asked about how safe it was to discharge the president, Dr. Conley said that they "send patients home with medications" all the time, and that “he probably met most of his discharge requirements" Sunday afternoon.
Once again, Dr. Conley's update was less about what he did say, and more about what he did not say; creating more questions than were answered.
For example, Dr. Conley refused to answer repeated questions about when Trump last tested negative for COVID-19: "I don't want to go backwards."
He also said he was "not at liberty to discuss" the results of the president's lung scans, saying HIPAA prevents him from disclosing those results.
While Dr. Conley said "we’re going to do whatever it takes for the president" to conduct business at the White House, he declined to say if he will be confined to the residence.
"I wish I could go into that more, but I just can't," he said, when asked how Trump would be kept "safely quarantined" in the White House.
He also would not comment on what additional drugs Trump is taking. Trump will take his fifth and final dose of remdesivir Tuesday at the White House.
Dr. Conley would not rule out the president heading back to the campaign trail: "As far as travel goes, we'll see."
2:40 p.m. EDT
President Trump announced on Twitter that he will be leaving Walter Reed Military Medical Center at 6:30 p.m. EDT.
"Don't be afraid of Covid," he wrote on Twitter. "Don't let it dominate your life."
2:35 p.m. EDT
President Trump has tweeted in defense of the decision to leave Walter Reed hospital to greet supporters.
2:20 p.m. EDT
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy slammed President Trump and his staff, saying they "acted recklessly" by attending Trump's fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey.
"We hope that no confirmed cases come out of the event in Bedminster," Murphy wrote on Twitter. "This is a matter of humanity, but also of leadership by example."
Murphy says that contact tracing is underway, with the state contacting 206 attendees and 19 staff members involved in both events, and working with the CDC to contact out-of-state attendees.
2:07 p.m. EDT
Dr. Sean Conley, President Trump's physician, will give an update on the president's condition in the 3:00 p.m. hour, according to White House official Judd Deere.
1:25 p.m. EDT
The disclosure that President Trump has been prescribed the steroid dexamethasone could be an indication the president’s coronavirus case is more serious than what his medical team is letting on, health experts say.
Dexamethasone is typically reserved for severe cases of COVID-19, not mild or moderate cases. The steroid, which reduces the body’s immune response, is normally only used if a patient’s condition seems to be deteriorating, Dr. Thomas McGinn, the physician-in-chief at Northwell Health on Long Island in New York, told The New York Times.
“The dexamethasone is the most mystifying of the drugs we’re seeing him being given at this point,” McGinn said.
“Suddenly, they’re throwing the kitchen sink at him. It raises the question: Is he sicker than we’re hearing, or are they being overly aggressive because he is the president, in a way that could be potentially harmful?”
1:15 p.m. EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he spoke to President Trump and he "sounds terrific -- very engaged and ready to get back to work!"
"He’s also very excited about Judge Amy Coney Barrett being confirmed to the Supreme Court and focused on a good deal to help stimulate the economy," Graham added.
Graham is pressing on with confirmation hearings for Barrett, which are set to begin Oct. 12, even though two members of the Judiciary Committee tested positive for COVID-19, and the Senate will not be in session.
1:09 p.m. EDT
According to multiple reports, two of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany's deputies have tested positive for COVID-19: Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt.
Gilmartin is the cousin of Sean Gilmartin, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays who also played for the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles, who is Kayleigh McEnany's husband.
ABC News first reported the news about Gilmartin, which was later confirmed by multiple outlets.
A White House spokesperson told CNN that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have tested negative for COVID-19.
12:23 p.m. EDT
Speaking to reporters, Trump's opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, would not comment on Trump's surprise visit to supporters outside the hospital.
"I’m reluctant to comment on anything, the president’s health, what he’s doing and not doing," Biden said. "I’ll leave that to the docs to talk about. I’m not going to comment on any of his conduct or his health."
Biden also said that as long as health experts are okay with it, he will debate the president as planned on Oct. 15.
Biden is heading to Florida Monday with his wife, former second lady Dr. Jill Biden, to campaign in Miami. A recent New York Times / Siena College poll shows Biden leading Trump 47-42 in the Sunshine State.
11:30 a.m. EDT
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19.
McEnany said she tested positive Monday morning and has no symptoms. She included that she "definitively had no knowledge of Hope Hicks' diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday."
"As an essential worker, I have worked diligently to provide needed information to the American People at this time," she wrote in a statement. "With my recent positive test, I will begin the quarantine process and will continue working on behalf of the American People remotely."
McEnany spoke to reporters Sunday without wearing a mask.
11:00 a.m. EDT
First Lady Melania Trump has made her first statement since Friday, the day she was diagnosed with COVID-19, posting to Twitter that she is "feeling good" and "will continue to rest at home."
The first lady thanked doctors, nurses, and other front line health care workers, and offered her prayers for those impacted by the coronavirus.
10:40 a.m. EDT
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, second lady Karen Pence, have again tested negative for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson for the Vice President's office.
"Both the vice president and second lady are negative again today," the official said.
Pence will be traveling to Utah Monday, though Politico reports that he will postpone a scheduled meeting with Utah Republicans.
Trump, hoping to project an air of strength and health, drove by in a black SUV to greet supporters with Secret Service agents inside the vehicle. Trump wore a mask, as did the agents.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump’s trip outside the hospital “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” He added that precautions were taken, including using personal protective equipment, to protect Trump as well as White House officials and Secret Service agents.
Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, called the move "insanity" in a Twitter post that was shared over 100,000 times.
In a subsequent post, Dr. Phillips said that the risk of COVID-19 transmission inside the presidential SUV, which is "not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack," is "as high as it gets outside of medical procedures."
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Fox News Monday morning that the "determination has not been made yet" whether or not the president can be discharged from the hospital, but that they "are still optimistic that he will be able to return to the White House later today."
Meadows added that the president is "ready to get back to a normal work schedule."
Meanwhile, Trump posted to Twitter Monday morning at least 15 "get out the vote" messages in a row, written in capital letters, urging people to vote based on issues such as "STOCK MARKET HIGHS," "RELIGOUS LIBERTY," "PRO LIFE," "BETTER & CHEAPER HEALTHCARE," and "FIGHT THE CORRUPT FAKE NEWS MEDIA."
- President Donald Trump
- First Lady Melania Trump
- White House aide Hope Hicks
- White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
- White House aide Nick Luna
- Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
- Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien
- Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway
- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
- University of Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins
- Three White House reporters
- One White House staffer
- Catch up on all of Sunday's news and events here.
- Catch up on all of Saturday's news and events here.
- Catch up on all of Friday's news and events here.
- Trump's doctors painted a confusing, at times conflicting, picture of Trump's COVID timeline.
- President Trump had a busy schedule the week leading up to his positive COVID-19 test. Here is a timeline of the president's busy schedule.
- With about a month to go until Election Day — what happens if the Trump becomes too sick to continue his time in office? Read more about that here.
- Doctors say President Donald Trump's coronavirus diagnosis is potentially concerning for two reasons: his age and his weight.
- Joe Biden’s campaign is taking down its attack ads in the wake of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection, according to reports. Read more about that decision.
- Trump's positive COVID-19 diagnosis sparked an explosion of rumors, misinformation and conspiracy theories on Friday that littered the social media feeds of many Americans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.