Councilmembers Blast Trump After Stay at Walter Reed

Outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, while President Trump receives COVID-19 treatment inside. Trump was discharged 10/5/2020.

Montgomery County councilmembers did not hold back their criticism after President Donald Trump’s dramatic three-night stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

Councilmember Hans Riemer had the strongest words for Trump:

“The man is insane, he’s a maniac and he’s killing people day by day with his utter intransigence in the face of this virus,” he said at a county council meeting Tuesday.

Trump received criticism for his actions during his three-night stay at Walter Reed. He came to the facility Friday, left Walter Reed to drive-by his supporters standing outside then checked out on Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those with COVID-19 should isolate themselves to avoid spreading the illness. Trump was also criticized for downplaying the virus while he has it. On Monday he tweeted that people should not be “afraid” of COVID-19 and that it should not “dominate” their lives.

Health experts and officials, from the CDC to Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, have said that people should take coronavirus seriously and take steps to slow its transmission, like wearing a face mask.

Councilmember Andrew Friedson said he lives down the street from Walter Reed and often passes it while walking. He made a point to contradict the president and say that he is scared of the virus.

“I am scared of COVID-19, I just want to be very clear,” he said. “I think we all should be and anybody who isn’t concerned about a deadly disease and global pandemic, I question their judgement.” Friedson also said residents should be proud to live in a jurisdiction with world-class treatment. He doesn’t want Montgomery County to lose sight of why Walter Reed exists and why the president would even come.

“When the president gets sick, regardless of who is the president, they come to Montgomery County for care. And they come to Montgomery County to get the best treatment with the best doctors and the best medical professionals in the world,” Friedson said.

It was terrifying to see images of Trump walking into the White House Monday night after returning from the medical center, Councilmember Gabe Albornoz said. Video that night shows Trump walking onto a White House balcony and taking off his face mask. Albornoz said Montgomery County worked hard to overcome a lack of federal leadership during the pandemic in order to secure testing, PPE and other help for residents. Local jurisdictions were effectively left on their own and now, Albornoz said they’ll have to work even harder to clean up after the Trump administration.

“I got no sleep last night. Because it is just absolutely terrifying that the messaging coming from the person who’s supposed to be our leader is so wrong and so incorrect and now local jurisdictions once again are going to have to spend time and energy and resources to overcome that messaging,” he said.

Trump’s supporters at Walter Reed said they enjoyed the president’s drive-by, even if they weren’t there to witness it. One supporter told MyMCMedia it was incredible.

Councilmember Will Jawando said he knows people who work in the White House who are scared.

“I know butlers and professional staff who’ve reached out that work in the White House right now, who as you said, many of whom live in Montgomery County or in this region, who are scared for their lives because of the irresponsibility of this president,” Jawando said.

Jawando urged people to look to their local government for COVID-19 guidance and information.

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Maryam Shahzad

About Maryam Shahzad

Maryam is a reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She graduated from the University of Maryland in December with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism. Previously, she was an intern with MCM. Maryam loves visual media and always says the movie is better than the book. She can be reached at mshahzad@mymcmedia.org or on Twitter @maryam_mcm.

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