But even 10 days away from the campaign trail might not be enough to eliminate risk to other people. The World Health Organization says isolation in symptomatic patients should last at least 13 days and mandates at least three entirely symptom-free days before normal activities resume.
Another criterion sometimes used for ending isolation is two negative PCR tests, taken one day apart. It’s not known whether Trump has yet tested negative.
“Remember, ‘isolation’ does not mean ‘locked down,’ ” says Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine. “The president will need to follow the CDC guidance on coming out of isolation, [but] he can be isolated at home or in the hospital. Isolation simply means that you separate the ill person.”
The White House is equipped to provide medical care and private space, but isolation is still easier to achieve in a hospital, where doctors and nurses working on covid wards wear masks, goggles, and fluid-proof gowns.
“One reason to stay in the hospital would be to ensure proper isolation and control of who and how people come into contact with him, which presumably would be much less feasible at the White House,” says Gellad. “They could ‘send him to stay in his room,’ but [I] doubt that would happen.”
The administration has been eager to show Trump in charge and at work, distributing photos of him at a big desk while in the hospital.
So it’s easy to imagine the White House disregarding isolation recommendations, just as it dispensed with wearing masks. The building is now the center of a super-cluster of coronavirus cases that’s affecting a widening circle of staff, advisors, Republican officials, and journalists.
After he tested positive on Thursday, Trump’s doctors threw the most powerful drugs they had at him, including an advanced antibody drug still in trials and a steroid usually reserved for the most severe covid-19 cases.
By Sunday, Trump was already breaking quarantine by jumping into a motorcade to wave to supporters gathered outside the hospital. Today he tweeted, “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”