October 21, 2020

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Feeling great, says Donald Trump after returning overnight to White House

WASHINGTON: A surreal drama unfolded at the White House on Monday evening as US President Donald Trump, leaving the Walter Reed military hospital after only a three-night stay for treatment of Covid-19, took the stairs to the balcony of the executive mansion, and standing there with his chest heaving with breathlessness, took off his mask to signal he is not spooked by the virus and wants Americans to take it head-on.
“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Trump wrote on Twitter in the morning, dramatically altering the approach to fighting the pandemic that has killed over 210,000 Americans, after having been treated with latest top-line therapeutics and medical care unavailable to most Americans.

In a separate video, Trump boasted that he had set an example on how to beat the virus. “As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did,” he said, adding, “I’m better, and maybe I’m immune – I don’t know.” The President is said to be considering a national TV address later tonight.

The theatrical messaging did not go down well with medical specialists, pandemic experts, and political rivals who were appalled at the sight of the President taking off his mask and posing for a campaign photo-shoot in a White House that has been turned into a petri-dish for coronavirus due to lax protocols. More than a dozen Trump aides and associates, including some from his press team, have willfully disdained mask mandates and social distancing, and tested positive for Covid-19, angering the White House media corps.
“What is this macho thing, ‘I’m not going to wear a mask?’ What’s the deal here? Big deal, does it hurt you? Be patriotic for god’s sake! Take care of yourself, but take care of your neighbors,” Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden said, amid a cascade of criticism as what was widely seen as irresponsible behavior by a President setting a poor example.
Trump was panned for comparing Covid-19 to the flu, which kills between 40,000-60,000 people each year, compared to a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in just six months in the US alone. There was also outrage that he was boasting about his capabilities boosted by top-line medical treatment and therapeutics, including experimental drugs, that are no available to most Americans.
The US President left no doubt that his bolting from the hospital, a liberty other Covid patients would not have, was linked to his political fortunes that he hopes to boost by showing a strong persona. “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!! The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls,” he tweeted, referring perhaps to a new CNN poll that shows him trailing Biden by a whopping 16 points – 57-41.

Hours later, he tweeted, “I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!” even though he is expected to be contagious for at least another ten days.
Doctors attending on him seemed helpless as the President apparently forced the issue of his discharge from hospital even though his treatment is incomplete and he is likely still contagious. Dr Sean Conley, his personal physician, said Monday that he is not ‘out of the woods’ but would get the care he needed at the White House, which was sanitized by workers in hazmat suits as the President arrived.
Trump made a dramatic return to the White House on Monday evening, exiting Marine One to walk up the steps of the South Portico, where he removed his face mask as he seemed to be gasping. “Epidemiologists just wanna vomit,” a health economist with the Federation of American Scientists tweeted, even as the hashtag #gasping worked its way to the top.
But Trump seemed quite steady as he waved at the cameras and re-enacted his entry, ostensibly for a campaign video aimed at projecting his efforts to beat the virus with sheer physical strength.