Trump Says 'Maybe I'm Immune, I Don't Know' Upon Return to White House After COVID-19 Hospitalization
President Trump arrived back at the White House Monday night after three days at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Donald Trump said he now "might be immune" to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) but revealed he "didn't feel so well" as he returned to the White House after being hospitalized for three days at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center undergoing treatment for the illness.
Speaking out in a video filmed Monday evening, Trump repeated his earlier message that he is now improved, though he is still infected with COVID-19 — and was seen taking off his mask as soon as he arrived back at the White House, where he was near other people.
"I just left Walter Reed Medical Center, and it's really something very special," the president said in a video message shared on Twitter. "The doctors, the nurses, the first responders, and I learned so much about coronavirus."
"And one thing that's for certain: Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it. You're gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently. And you're gonna beat it," said Trump, whose office afforded him leading medical care not available to the average patient, including experimental treatment.
More than 210,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, and more than 7.4 million have tested positive for the highly contagious and deadly virus.
Speaking about his weekend in the hospital, Trump — whose treatment has included antivirals, steroids and supplemental oxygen — continued: "I went, I didn't feel so good and two days ago — I could have left two days ago — two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time, I said this recently. Better than 20 years ago. Don't let it dominate, don't let it take over your lives."
Seemingly defending both his flouting of social distancing and masks since the spring and his decision to remove his mask for a photo op just moments earlier, Trump said: "We're going back to work, we'll be out front. As your leader, I had to do that."
"I know there's danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front, I led," he contended. "Nobody that's a leader would not do what I did. And I know there's a risk, there's a danger, but that's okay."
"And now I'm better — and maybe I'm immune, I don't know," Trump said. It remains unclear if someone who has been infected with COVID-19 is then immune, and some health experts say that it is possible to contract it more than once.
"But don't let it dominate your lives, get out there, be careful," Trump concluded. "We have the best medicines in the world, and they've all happened very shortly, and they're all getting approved, and the vaccines are coming momentarily. Thank you very much, and Walter Reed, what a group of people. Thank you very much."
Trump also shared a video of his arrival at the White House Monday night set to dramatic music.
Monday evening, Trump left Walter Reed and boarded Marine One to fly back to the White House.
While the president wore a face mask during the short trip, he removed the covering upon his arrival at the White House and posed for photographers before entering. Trump stood for several moments without a mask before giving cameras a thumbs-up and salute.
Earlier on Monday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said that Trump would be able to continue his treatment from home at the White House.
"Though he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations — and most importantly, his clinical status — support the president’s safe return home," Conley said.
Instead of remaining in isolation, Trump made another outing over the weekend to wave at his supporters outside Walter Reed from his presidential motorcade — a move that was criticized for putting others at risk of contracting the virus.
Just before leaving Walter Reed on Monday, Trump sent out a tweet promising to be back on the campaign trail "soon."
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.