US President Donald Trump's publicity stunt to greet 'supporters' during a drive-by backfired badly after he was slammed for his irresponsible move that put secret service agents at risk of contracting COVID-19. Dr James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed Medical Centre, called the gimmick 'insane' and 'theatrical'.
Trump was admitted at the Maryland hospital on Friday night, hours after he revealed being tested positive for the coronavirus. In a statement issued on Saturday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that Trump went through a 'very concerning' period Friday and doctors said the next 48 hours would 'be critical'.
White House Claims Trump's Drive-By Cleared by Medical Team
The drive-by salute to his supporters gathered outside the Walter Reed hospital came after Trump announced a 'surprise' in a video posted earlier. Wearing a black mask, Trump sat in his sealed SUV, as he waved back to the cheering crowd. Apart from Trump, two masked men were sitting in the front seats of the vehicle.
Slamming the US President, Phillips expressed his anguish in a tweet. "Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential "drive-by" just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity," he wrote.
Expressing concern about the members of Secret Service accompanying Trump in the vehicle, the physician added: "That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 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."
In a statement issued soon after, the White House stated that Trump's drive-by was cleared by his medical team who deemed the move to be 'safe'. New York Post quoted White House spokesman Judd Deere, who said: "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."
Twitter Slams Trump For Putting People Around Him at Risk
Despite the White House claiming that no one was endangered during the US President's publicity stunt, the social media was fuming against Trump.
In a tweet, Jonathan Reiner, a professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University, wrote: "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."
"How about all the people in his path from the hospital room to the car and back again? And how sick can he be if he can pull this stunt off? The COVID patients I've seen can barely walk from their bed to the bathroom. What kind of charade is this?" wrote a user.
"This is truly unconscionable. It's an insult to the Secret Service who put their lives at risk for him every day. It's an insult to those treating him at the hospital. Trump Just Exposed Secret Service to COVID to Do a Drive-By for MAGA Supporters," wrote Amy Klobuchar.
"I suspect this drive through is going to haunt Trump. not because he needlessly exposed a lot of people but because for someone so image conscious he looked ridiculous. a slow speed drive by by sick old man needing a boost from a small crowd of fans. not a good look," wrote another.