Trump takes a brief car ride, ignoring his own COVID infection; Analysis: President faces credibility crisis over health scare

The Rundown


''I get it,'' President Donald Trump declared in a video with a seeming newfound appreciation for the seriousness of the coronavirus. But then his actions suggested otherwise.

Infected and contagious, Trump briefly ventured out in a motorcade to salute cheering supporters, a move that disregarded precautions meant to contain the deadly virus that has forced his hospitalization and killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Hours earlier, Trump’s medical team reported that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. Still, the doctors said Trump’s health is improving and that he could be discharged as early as today.

With one month until Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness.

“This is insanity,” said an attending physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, who is a critic of Trump and his handling of the pandemic. “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,” the doctor added.

The White House spokesman said Trump’s trip outside the hospital “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” 

The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside Walter Reed, driving by in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear. Jill Colvin, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller have the latest. 

Analysis: The White House is facing questions about the consistency and credibility of the information it is providing about Trump's health following his hospitalization. At a briefing on Saturday, the White House physician painted a rosy picture of Trump's situation, saying he was improving and doing well. The physician on Sunday then said he had been trying to portray an upbeat attitude. But he also revealed new information he had not previously disclosed, including a second drop in the president's oxygen level, AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace writes. 

Trump's Doctor: The Navy commander in charge of Trump’s care left the world wondering: Just how sick is the president? Dr. Sean Conley is trained in emergency medicine, not infectious disease and his credibility is also under the microscope. He said Sunday that Trump is doing well enough that he might be sent back to the White House in another day — even as he announced the president was given a steroid drug that’s only recommended for the very sick, AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard reports. 

What we know, and what we don’t, about Trump’s diagnosis.

Election 2020: Trump and his reelection campaign have had a challenging week to say the least: His long-hidden tax returns leaked out; his first debate performance ignited a firestorm over white supremacy; and he was hospitalized for COVID-19 after months of playing down the threat of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans. His reelection campaign now enters the final month grappling with deficits in the polls, a shortage of cash and a candidate who is at least temporarily sidelined, Jonathan Lemire and Steve Peoples report. 

AP EXPLAINS: What happens if a candidate for president dies?

Stricken Presidents: Throughout American history, an uncomfortable truth has been evident: Presidents have lied about their health. Deb Riechmann looks back at previous instances of illness in the Oval Office, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. 

AP Wire