KEY POINTS

  • Health officials in New Jersey reported 206 people who attended President Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, fundraiser may have been exposed to COVID-19

  • Trump seems eager to leave the hospital and might be released as early as Monday

  • On Sunday Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in an armored vehicle to ride past supporters gathered outside the building, potentially exposing his Secret Service agents to the contagion

Health officials in New Jersey reported 206 people who attended President Donald Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, fundraiser may have been exposed to COVID-19. 

The president, who is hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, announced early Friday he had tested positive for COVID-19, just hours after attending the event at his golf club.

“[The New Jersey Department of Health] has reached out to these individuals to make them aware of possible exposure and recommend that they self-monitor for symptoms and quarantine if they were in close contact with the president and his staff,” the department tweeted Sunday.

Many spectators were only required to provide their email, and the attendee list from the Republican National Committee did not include phone numbers or physical addresses. 

While the Department of Health is scrambling to conduct contact tracing, many health officials argue it will take longer to reach guests because email addresses aren’t considered a reliable method of contact tracing process.

“Ideally you want as many pieces of information as possible,” said Rutgers University public health school Dean Perry Halkitis, who oversaw the development of New Jersey's contact tracing training program. “An email may be adequate for some of those, but it may not be adequate for all of those who don’t check their email regularly.”

Trump’s positive test prompted health officials in four states to initiate contact tracing. Trump held fundraisers and rallies in Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the past week and debated former Vice President Joe Biden in Ohio on Tuesday.

Despite receiving urgent treatment, Trump left Walter Reed in an armored Chevrolet Suburban to ride past supporters gathered outside the hospital. As he waved to supporters, other medical experts criticized the president for potentially exposing the Secret Service agents in the car with him. 

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” Dr. James P. Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, wrote on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

In an subsequent tweet, Philipps added: “That presidential SUV is not only bulletproof but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID-19 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.” 

After an onslaught of tweets from Trump and pictures posted by the White House showing the president working during his recovery, Trump seems eager to leave Walter Reed. Doctors said he could be released as early as Monday. 

"If he continues to look and feel as well as he does today, our hope is that we can plan for a discharge ... to the White House where he can continue his treatment course," said Dr. Brian Garibaldi of Johns Hopkins University, who is consulting on the president's medical treatment.

While the president's physicians painted a rosy picture of Trump’s overall COVID-19 symptoms, The New York Times reported Trump had a high fever and saw his blood oxygen level drop Friday morning. The president was also placed on supplemental oxygen Friday, given an experimental antibody treatment and put on courses of Remdesivir, an antiviral, and the steroid dexamethasone, which generally is administered only in the most severe cases.