Washington Gov. Jay Inslee criticized President Donald Trump’s seeming dismissal of the seriousness of COVID-19 shortly before Trump’s release from the hospital Monday.
Before noon, Pacific time, Trump tweeted he expected to be leaving Walter Reed Medical Center in about four hours, adding “Feeling really good. Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” He added that under his administration, the country had developed great drugs and knowledge on the illness.
The president repeated that message in a video posted after he returned to the White House, adding that people should “get out there” and “we have the best medicines in the world.”
On Friday when Trump was taken to Walter Reed by helicopter, Inslee posted a message on Twitter wishing the president and Melania Trump a speedy recovery. ‘The virus does not discriminate based on politics,” he added.
But in a news release Monday, Inslee, who has been a frequent critic of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, called the president’s admonitions on COVID-19 “reckless” for a disease that has claimed 210,000 lives.
“He hasn’t learned a thing,” Inslee said. “His only statement now should be an acknowledgement that COVID is dangerous; that he was wrong when discouraging the use of masks and wrong to mock the experts.”
It was easy for Trump to downplay the dangers of the virus when he has access to the level of medical care that other people don’t, Inslee added.
Trump was hospitalized more quickly than many people are after testing positive for COVID-19 and one of the treatments he received at Walter Reed is not available yet for general use.
The virus has so far infected nearly 7.4 million people and caused 210,000 deaths in the United States, with almost 94,000 cases and 2,238 deaths in Washington state, according to the most recent data compiled by the New York Times.
Like Trump, Inslee is seeking re-election in a campaign where his handling of the pandemic is being criticized by his opponent. Republican Loren Culp, a police chief from Republic, Washington, has said Inslee didn’t have the constitutional authority to order businesses closed or to have them require masks for employees and customers, even though the governor’s emergency proclamations have been upheld by courts.
People should be presented with the facts by medical experts but be free to choose whether they want to wear masks or require employees and customers to do so, Culp said.
Inslee, who has been issuing proclamations that allow different businesses to slowly reopen with certain rules on face coverings and about the number of people inside and the amount of distance between them, has said wearing masks is the key to defeating the pandemic and restoring the economy.
Shortly before leaving Walter Reed on Monday, Trump sent another tweet saying he would soon return to the campaign trail. A member of his campaign staff later told the Associated Press the president now has the experience of fighting the virus as an individual, adding “Joe Biden doesn’t have that.”
With Trump again tweeting campaign messages, Biden told a crowd in Miami on Monday he had some advice: “Listen to the scientists. Support masks. Support mask mandates nationwide.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.