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A physician at Walter Reed Medical Center who is also a frequent contributor to CNN appears to have inappropriately criticized President Donald Trump’s drive-by on Sunday so he could wave to supporters gathered outside the hospital as a thank-you to them.
In a series of tweets, Dr. James Phillips, M.D., an attending physician at Walter Reed as well as chief of Disaster Medicine at George Washington University, accused the president of endangering lives including those of his Secret Service detail for taking the short trip.
“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,” Phillips wrote.
“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,” Phillips added.
But as it turns out, the president’s medical team cleared the drive-by ahead of time and ensured that everyone involved was protected.
I hope the administrators at Walter Reed hospital will take notice. https://t.co/9xUdGUVlm4
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) October 5, 2020
CBS News’ Catherine Herridge referenced her network colleague Mark Knoller, who reported that a White House official told him, “Appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect POTUS + all those supporting it, including PPE…cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”
In a statement, Deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said, “President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed.”
Likely anticipating the criticism, Deere also noted that “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE.”
He added: “The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”
Photos of the drive-by show the president masked, as are other personnel inside the vehicle with him. Some are wearing personal protective equipment and N95 masks.
secret service in PPE pic.twitter.com/cEfxMun7VG
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) October 4, 2020
Prior to the drive-by, President Trump released another video praising doctors and his treatment at Walter Reed while teasing the visit.
“I think we’re going to pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots that we have out on the street,” he said. “And they’ve been out there for a long time, and they’ve got Trump flags. And they love our country. So I’m not telling anybody, but you. But I’m about to make a little surprise visit.”
“It’s been a very interesting journey,” Trump noted further. “I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn’t the ‘Let’s read the book’ school. I get it. I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing, and I’m going to be letting you know about it.”
Reports note that Trump could be released from the hospital as soon as Monday.
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