0928 GMT November 24, 2020
President Donald Trump has been accused by a doctor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center of putting the lives of Secret Service agents at risk for "political theater" after the president surprised supporters with a public drive-by on Sunday.
Dr. James P. Phillips, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University who is also an attending physician at Walter Reed, where Trump has been hospitalized, said "the irresponsibility is astounding" in tweets lambasting the president for sharing a car with Secret Service agents while still infected with the coronavirus, businessinsider.com reported.
Trump was filmed temporarily leaving Walter Reed in the back of a black car on Sunday evening after being admitted there Friday for treatment for the coronavirus.
Suited and wearing a mask, the president waved at cheering supporters on the street in what he described in a video statement posted on Twitter as a "little surprise visit to some of the patriots we have out on the street."
Phillips said "this is insanity" and said that under the official US coronavirus guidance the security personnel traveling in the car with Trump would need to quarantine for two weeks because of their exposure to the virus.
He tweeted: "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."
In a second tweet he wrote: "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."
Another doctor, Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at the George Washington University's medical school, added in a tweet: "By taking a joy ride outside Walter Reed the president is placing his Secret Service detail at grave risk."
Reiner added: "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."
A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said the drive had been "cleared by the medical team as safe," adding that "appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the president and all those supporting it, including PPE," the Guardian reported.
In his video statement, Trump described his coronavirus infection as a "very interesting journey" during which he "learned a lot" about COVID-19. He was taken to Walter Reed on Friday shortly after it was made public that he had tested positive for the virus.
"I learned it by really going to school," he said in the video. "This is the real school. This isn't the 'let's read the book' school. I get it, and I understand it. And it's a very interesting thing, and I'm going to be letting you know about it."