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Trump to leave hospital as White House COVID cases rise

President Donald Trump drives past supporters gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Trump was admitted to the hospital after contracting COVID-19. (Anthony Peltier/AP photo via Courthouse News)

WASHINGTON (CN) — President Donald Trump said over Twitter Monday that he will leave the Washington hospital where he has been treated for coronavirus the last three days to continue recovering at the White House, where a rapidly increasing succession of staff have tested positive for Covid-19.

The president, who has routinely downplayed Covid-19 for months as more than 200,000 American died from the disease, said not to be afraid of the deadly respiratory virus.

“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!” Trump said in a tweet.

The announcement came just hours after White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she tested positive for Covid-19, after briefing members of the media without wearing a mask the day before.

President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, three GOP senators and several White House and Trump campaign officials have all revealed they tested positive for the coronavirus.

The outbreak is expected to be linked to the White House Rose Garden event where Trump announced the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last month, during which the majority of the more than 100 guests mingled closely together, hugging and kissing on the cheek, without wearing masks.

McEnany is experiencing no symptoms and had tested negative consistently since Thursday, according to a statement she released Monday morning.

“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms. No reporters, producers, or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit,” she wrote.

Claiming to have no knowledge of Trump aide Hope Hicks’ diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday, McEnany said she will begin quarantining including working remotely.

She was at the White House over the weekend and briefed members of the media without wearing a mask on Sunday. But the press secretary said Monday no members of the White House press corps are considered close contacts, at risk of contracting Covid-19.

Three White House reporters tested positive for the respiratory disease last week, including one who attended the Rose Garden event.

Two members of McEnany’s staff, Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt, reportedly also tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. Gilmartin serves as principal assistant press secretary — and is the cousin of McEnany’s husband, Sean Gilmartin, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays — and Leavitt as assistant press secretary.

Trump’s doctors are expected to provide details Monday on the president’s condition from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he began receiving treatment over the weekend. They said Sunday that Trump was administered a steroid typically given to very sick patients and that his oxygen levels had suddenly dropped twice in recent days.

“This is an important day as the president continues to improve and is ready to get back to a normal work schedule,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said in an interview with Fox News on Monday.

Trump and his family flouted wearing masks during last week’s debate, where the president taunted former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing protective face coverings during campaign events.

Biden told reporters Monday that he was “reluctant” to discuss the president’s health.

Asked whether it will be safe to hold the next presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15, the Democratic nominee said, “I’ll do whatever the experts say.”