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The president walked unassisted from the hospital to a car and then boarded a Marine One flight back to the White House. He did not take any questions from reporters but waved and gave a thumbs-up.
Upon his arrival at the White House, where staff had set up U.S. flags flanking the entrance, he walked up the front stairs and removed his mask while saluting Marine One.
White House physician Sean Conley said during a press briefing Monday that Trump is doing well, but “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,” Conley said.
Trump was hospitalised Friday just hours after revealing that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus.
Though Trump’s medical team has repeatedly said he’s doing “very well,” Conley revealed Sunday that Trump’s blood oxygen levels have dropped below 95% ― an important threshold ― at least twice since contracting the virus.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Saturday that Trump’s doctors and aides had been “very concerned” a day earlier with the president’s symptoms, which have included a cough, fever, fatigue and at least two transient blood oxygen level dips since contracting the virus.
Trump’s doctors said Sunday that Trump hasn’t had a fever since Friday.
Conley on Monday refused to share key details about Trump’s condition, including the results of medical imaging performed on his lungs.
“I’m just not at liberty to discuss,” Conley told reporters.
Conley said Monday that Trump hasn’t taken fever-reducing medications for 72 hours, but doctors online noted that the steroid the president has been prescribed to treat his infection ― dexamethasone ― can reduce fevers.
Following a transient drop in his blood oxygen level on Saturday, Trump’s team administered a first dose of dexamethasone, which has been proven to reduce deaths among critically ill COVID-19 patients.
During the course of his illness, Trump has also been administered a single infusion of a virus antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and three doses of remdesevir, an antiviral drug authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Trump will continue to be treated with dexamethasone after leaving Walter Reed and is expected to complete the full five-day course of remdesivir at the White House on Tuesday, Conley said.
“We all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard because we’re in a bit of uncharted territory when it comes to a patient that has received the therapies that [Trump] has so early in the course,” Conley said.
Some medical experts have theorised that Trump’s condition is far worse than his doctors are letting on, given the treatments prescribed to the president. Dexamethasone has only been shown to be beneficial in COVID-19 patients who require respiratory assistance from a ventilator or supplemental oxygen.
After evading questions on Saturday about whether Trump had received any respiratory assistance, Conley revealed Sunday that the president had indeed received “limited” supplemental oxygen.
It can take three to 14 days for symptoms to appear after being exposed to the virus, though symptom onset typically begins within four to five days of exposure, according to Harvard Medical School.
Trump reportedly began showing symptoms Thursday, if not earlier.
Trump tweeted ahead of the press briefing Monday that he planned to leave Walter Reed later that night.
“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he wrote in his tweet, referring to the virus that has killed more than 210,000 people nationwide. “Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
Lydia O’Connor contributed to this report.