The president returned to the White House on Monday evening after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and is continuing to receive treatment for COVID-19.
Upon arriving at the White House from Marine One on Monday evening, the president walked out onto the Truman Balcony overlooking the South Lawn, removed his face mask, and saluted military officers as Marine One departed the grounds. Critics took swings at the president, claiming the move was irresponsible.
“At times like this, in these moments, it is highly important for the commander in chief to express confidence to our domestic population, and it is very important, to our allies and adversaries,” White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said on “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday, adding that the president is “projecting an image of strength.”
Farah also addressed the president removing his mask, despite a White House photographer being on the balcony with him.
“This was a brief interaction,” she said. “Our photographers, we know, when we work with the president, wear your mask and keep your distance.”
“The world and the American people needed to see their president strong and leading,” Farah said.
Farah added that the president’s focus is “working to defeat” COVID-19, while also making sure therapeutics and potential vaccines reach the American public.
“On this date, you are the most likely to survive and get treatment for the coronavirus because of this president’s leadership,” Farah said.
“The president’s message is clear: while taking safe mitigation practices, Americans need to get back to ordinary life,” Farah added, saying “businesses are closing and people cannot make ends meet.”
“The president wants us to get through coronavirus, to be safe and be smart, so we can get back to normal life,” she said. “His point is, we can’t do this forever. We can’t keep the nation locked down.”
Meanwhile, Farah was asked about a report published Tuesday by the Associated Press, which suggested White House staff are angered by the outbreak of coronavirus within the White House.
The president, last Friday, just before 1 a.m., announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, after White House adviser Hope Hicks also tested positive. Since then, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and director of Oval Office Operations David Luna have also tested positive.
Farah pushed back on the report, saying that she doesn’t “give much credence to anonymous sources.”
“We feel comfortable working here, we are taking precautions in the West Wing, we need to be washing our hands, wearing masks when we can’t socially distance,” Farah said. “That is not representative of the vibe in the White House … If anything, the team has been highly inspired but he president’s strong leadership.”