Trump breaks quarantine at Walter Reed for 'political stunt'

"This is insanity."

US Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, speaks about U.S. President Donald Trump's health, in Bethesda (photo credit: REUTERS)
US Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, speaks about U.S. President Donald Trump's health, in Bethesda
(photo credit: REUTERS)
United States President Donald Trump left the hospital Sunday evening to drive past and wave at supporters outside the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, drawing immediate criticism that he might be exposing more Americans to infection.
Trump decided to leave the hospital in his bulletproof hermetically sealed SUV on Sunday accompanied by two Secret Service agents as his detail, agents a Walter Reed physician says will have to go into quarantine now, along with anyone else who was closely involved in orchestrating the political stunt.
Trump also said he had been meeting with soldiers and first responders.
"Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days," said Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed. "They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity."
In a follow-up tweet, Phillips added: "That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID-19 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."
Apart from being a Walter Reed physician, Phillips also serves as the chief of disaster medicine at the George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine.
One of his colleagues, Dr. Johnathan S. Reiner explained that "by taking a joy ride outside Walter Reed, the president is placing his 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. This is the height of irresponsibility."
Reiner serves as the director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at The George Washington University Hospital, as well as being a professor of medicine at the school.
The White House told reporters on Sunday that proper protocols were used to ensure the safety of those involved in orchestrating the motorcade, including the driver and the president's security detail, as well as the safety of others in the hospital. The White House also stated that the move was cleared by the president's medical team.
"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," said White House spokesman Judd Deere.
Both The Hill and CNN members of the White House reporter pool said that the spokesman would not answer whether Trump personally requested the motorcade, or why the pool wasn't notified of the public appearance ahead of time.
Isolated within the confines of Walter Reed
just outside Washington since Friday, Trump has released a series of videos in an effort to reassure the public that he is recovering from a viral infection that has infected 7.4 million Americans and killed more than 209,000.
"It's a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID," he said in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday showed Trump trailing Biden by 10 percentage points. About 65 percent of Americans said Trump would not have been infected had he taken the virus more seriously.
Trump's doctors have said his health is improving and that he could be sent back to the White House as soon as Monday.
Reuters contributed to this report.