Trump removes mask during return to White House, draws outrage

The president appears to be struggling to breathe during the highly criticized photo op. 

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President Donald Trump staged a seemingly reckless photo op following his departure from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday. 

Three days after testing positive for the potentially deadly COVID-19 contagion, Trump posed for a mask-less photo session on the White House balcony, CNN reports. The move was aimed to show strength amid reports that his health is failing. 

“Only days into his diagnosis, the first thing President Trump does when he gets back to the White House is take his mask off,” wrote White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins on Twitter. 

Read More: Secret Service slam Trump’s motorcade ride, potential exposure: ‘We’re not disposable’

Several Twitter users noted that Trump appears to be “gasping” or struggling to breath after removing the mask. Many dubbed him a “superspreader” of the virus and called him irresponsible. Others came to his defense, pointing out that he is “socially distanced and isolated” on the balcony. Watch the moment via the Twitter video embed below.

Author and activist Darlene McDonald wrote, “Trump takes mask off and walks into the WH, endangering everyone, ESPECIALLY essential workers. They don’t have his level of healthcare. I’m reminded of Jason Hargrove, the bus drivers who pleaded with people to wear a mask. He caught Covid-19 and died.”

Many are convinced that Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis is a “hoax” and “fake news” or a deliberate disregard for the health and safety of the people he comes in contact with.

Trump returned to the White House on Monday after a 72-hospitalization due to coronavirus concerns, and he wasted no time hoping on Twitter to downplay the pandemic. 

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump said in a video message to his supporters.

Read More: Trump says leaving hospital for White House, feels great

“We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re gonna be out front. As your leader I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it but I had to do it,” Trump added. “I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. I know there’s a risk there’s a danger. That’s OK. And now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune? I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there, be careful.”

Trump went on to promise that the “vaccines are coming momentarily.”

Watch his full message via the Twitter video above.

“We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

Late Sunday afternoon, Trump ventured outside of Walter Reed, where he was convalescing after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and experienced symptoms requiring treatment, including I.V. doses of remdesivir. The president tweeted out a video message, saying that he had a “surprise,” and moments later, he was in a SUV motorcade seen waving to supporters who had lined the streets outside of the medical center, theGRIO previously reported.

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