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President Trump drives past supporters in a motorcade outside of Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Sunday. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

An attending physician at the Walter Reed Medical Center led criticism from some in the medical community over President Trump's SUV ride to wave at supporters gathered outside the hospital where he's being treated for COVID-19.

Details: "That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures," physician James Phillips tweeted. "The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play."

"Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity."
Phillips' Twitter post

What they're saying: New York University professor Céline Gounder, an infectious diseases expert, tweeted: "POTUS putting the health of others at risk. His M.O. this entire pandemic."

  • Oregon Health and Science University's Esther Choo, an emergency room physician, told MSNBC: "It makes me sick to see him in close quarters with others in that car."
  • Craig Spencer, director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, posted the below comments to Twitter:
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The big picture: The drive-by likely violates CDC guidelines, which call on health care professionals to "limit transport and movement of the patient outside of the room to medically essential purposes."

  • Trump wore a mask during the trip.

The other side: White House spokesperson Judd Deere told reporters, "Appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do."

  • Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller told CNN Sunday evening that the Secret Service takes "great care of their agents" and "always take extra precaution."
  • Trump said in a video ahead of his trip that he wanted to make a "surprise visit" to his supporters, who called "great patriots."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Deere's comments.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2021 - Health

All visitors to U.S. will require negative COVID test to fly

Photo: NIKLAS HALLE'N / Getty Images

Anyone flying to the United States must test negative for the coronavirus before boarding their flight under a policy announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: With cases surging in the U.S., and new, more contagious variants emerging in other countries, the CDC says pre-flight testing will help slow the spread of the virus until the American public is fully vaccinated.

Updated Jan 12, 2021 - Health

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine expected to provide immunity for at least 1 year

Photo: Mario Tama via Getty

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine will provide immunity from the disease for at least one year, the biotech company said Monday per Reuters.

Why it matters: Moderna's vaccine is one of two now authorized for emergency use in the U.S., as coronavirus cases surge past 22.5 million nationally and 90.8 million globally.

2 hours ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.