(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — President Donald Trump continues to battle COVID-19 at Walter Reed Medical Center and, on Sunday, surprised supporters by waving to them while driving by in a motorcade. The president tweeted a video shortly before his drive-by appearance, calling it “a little surprise visit.”
President Trump also stated on Sunday that his experience with COVID-19 has opened his eyes, saying his battle was like “really going to school” and that he “gets it” and “understands it.”
Administration member Judd Deere stated on Sunday, “President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed.”
Added Deere, “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.”
President Trump returned to Walter Reed right after, where his condition remains unknown. Reports say he may be released as early as Monday.
However, some health officials are calling President Trump’s drive-by a stunt while critics expressed concern that the president — who was wearing a mask inside the car — could have possibly passed his infection onto the driver and any other Secret Service members in the vehicle.
Doctor James Phillips, Chief of Disaster Medicine at George Washington who attends at Walter Reed, lambasted the president on Twitter, saying President Trump outright defied guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die,” tweeted Phillips on Sunday. “This is insanity.”
Phillips added, “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” and called the drive-by irresponsible.
A Secret Service spokesperson, when asked to comment on the health and safety of their agents, said to ABC News that they “do not comment on presidential protection.”
The CDC recommends that transporting a patient “outside of their room should be limited to medically essential purposes. If being transported outside of the room, such as to radiology, healthcare personnel (HCP) in the receiving area should be notified in advance of transporting the patient.”