President Donald Trump's Monday afternoon tweet—in which he announced that he would leave Walter Reed at 6:30 pm, dismissed the severity of the pandemic, and touted "really great drugs"—elicited a flood of criticism from observers who said the president could be sending a deadly message after being afforded the kind of healthcare treatment the more than 210,000 Americans who died from Covid-19 were unable to access.
"Don't be afraid of Covid," tweeted Trump, who is infected with the virus and has been at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since Friday night. "We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs."
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020
The tweet comes a day after Trump, who, being 74 and overweight, is at higher risk from the virus, left the hospital to go on a sharply criticized drive-by of supporters outside Walter Reed in an apparent display of robust health.
"How many people will die because of this tweet?" progressive advocacy group Public Citizen wrote in response to Trump's tweet.
Indivisible co-executive director Leah Greenberg similarly responded: "'Don't be afraid of Covid' is a disgustingly irresponsible message for anyone to send. That message, coming from THE PRESIDENT, is going to influence so many people and lead to so many more unnecessary deaths."
"This is dangerous and toxic," said MoveOn.
"Covid-19 and the Trump administration's failed response have killed more than 210,000 Americans," the group wrote, encouraging people to follow CDC recommendations to stop the spread of the virus and "vote Trump and the GOP out over the next 29 days."
Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University's Milken School of Public Health, reiterated her concerns that the true status of Trump's condition remains unknown, and wondered if the president will "abide by isolation guidelines and not further endanger others?"
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Rebuffing Trump's downplaying of the virus, Wen added: "We SHOULD be afraid of #covid19. It has killed 209,000 Americans."
Though White House officials have not given a clear timeline of Trump's illness, it is known that he was given the steroid dexamethasone as well as an experimental antibody cocktail.
"I don't know who needs to hear this, but Trump had access to treatments that no one else in the country does," tweeted CBS journalist Weijia Jiang.
"If we all had the same access to the top-tier socialized medicine that the president does," added Public Citizen, "Covid would be a little less scary."
Trump's doctor, Sean Conley, said at a press conference Monday afternoon that the president "may not entirely be out of the woods yet," but noted that Trump "will be surrounded by world-class medical care 24/7."
"We all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard because we're in a bit of uncharted territory when it comes to a patient that received the therapies he has so early in the course," said Conley, "so we're looking to this weekend."
Ahead of the president's Twitter announcement, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) put the backdrop in stark terms.
"Over 30 million were uninsured at the start of 2020," wrote Khanna, and "at least 5.4 million lost their employer-based health insurance during Covid."
"Today, I'm thinking about all those who couldn't afford the care they needed during this pandemic," he tweeted.