US president Donald Trump has urged the American people not to be "afraid" of coronavirus as he delivered a video message following his return to the White House from Walter Reed Medical center.
“Don’t let it dominate, don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen. We’re the greatest country in the world. We’re going back, we’re going back to work, we’re going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I know there’s danger to it,” he said, adding: “maybe I’m immune, I don’t know.”
“I learned so much about coronavirus, and one thing that’s for certain, don’t let it dominate you, don’t be afraid of it, you’re going to beat it,” he continued. “We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently.”
#Trump arrives back to the #WhiteHouse and removes his mask... #TrumpCovid19— Suzanne Lynch (@suzannelynch1) October 5, 2020
Describing his own experience of coronavirus, he said: “I went, I didn’t feel so good, and two days ago – I could have left two days ago – two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time, I said just recently, better than 20 years ago.”
He said that, as a leader, he had “stood out front, I led. Nobody who is leader would not do what I did. I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s ok ... Now I’m better. And maybe I’m immune, I don’t know, but don’t let it dominate your lives.”
Mr Trump, who spent three nights in Walter Reed Medical Center for coronavirus, is continuing to be treated with a variety of drugs, after he tested positive for coronavirus last week, leading to his hospitalisation.
Close to 210,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, while more than 7 million have been infected.
Mr Trump arrived back to the White House shortly before 7pm on Monday night on Marine One. After landing, he walked up to the Truman gallery, removed his mask and saluted the helicopter. Shortly after, Mr Trump posted a dramatic 30-second video of his arrival, set to music, on his twitter feed.
Despite Mr Trump’s upbeat assessment of his health, serious questions remain about his condition, particularly given his age and weight.
Before leaving the Walter Reed hospital on Monday, the president’s doctors said that the president was not “out of the woods” yet.
"We all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard, because we're in a bit of unchartered territory when it comes to a patient who received the therapies he has so early in the course," said White House physician Sean Conley. "If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving better yet, then we will all take that deep sigh of relief."
He also declined to give information on Mr Trump’s lung scans, or clarify when the president last tested negative.
Mr Trump returned to the White House as the web of infected employees and officials continued to grow.
In addition to First Lady Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her colleagues were the latest officials to contract Covid.
Ms McEnany announced that she had tested positive on Monday morning, prompting questions as to why she continued to mingle with members of the press and other aides despite knowingly being in close contact with aide Hope Hicks who tested positive last week.
Official government advice is that anyone who has had close contact with someone infected with Covid-19 should quarantine for 14 days.
In her statement, Ms McEnany said she had tested positive on Monday morning but had no symptoms, adding that she had tested negative every day since Thursday. She added that she “definitively” had no knowledge of Ms Hicks’ positive test when she held a press briefing on Thursday – her last formal press conference in the White House. But she has since mixed with staff and journalists, briefing members of the press pool without wearing a face mask as recently as Sunday.
At least three members of the White House press pool, including a New York Times journalist who travelled with US president Donald Trump on Air Force One, have also contracted Covid-19 over the last week.
The New York Times reported that two housekeepers at the White House have also been diagnosed, as well as the president’s “bodyman,” or personal attendant.
Meanwhile, vice president Mike Pence departed Washington on Monday for a multi-state trip, despite attending the September 26th Supreme Court nomination event that has been linked to an outbreak of cases. Speaking to reporters as he left for Salt Lake City ahead of Wednesday night's vice-presidential debate, he said: "when the president told me he was headed back to the White House, he told me to head to Utah. "
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also lambasted Mr Trump's move to hold a fundraiser and campaign event at his Bedminster golf course on Thursday. "This is a matter of leadership by example, and it is clear that the president and his staff acted recklessly in coming to New Jersey." He said that almost 200 people who attended the events had been contacted by health officials.