Sen. Susan Collins
“When I saw him on the balcony of the White House, taking off his mask, I couldn’t help but think that he sent the wrong signal, given that he’s infected with COVID-19 and that there are many people in his immediate circle who have the virus,” Collins told The Associated Press. “I did not think that was a good example at all.”
Collins, who is fighting for her political life as she tries to hold onto her Senate seat, has previously been critical of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying earlier this year that it had been “extremely uneven” and that he “should have been straightforward” about the seriousness of the disease.
Trump was spotted taking off his mask on Monday as he posed for photos from the balcony above the South Lawn. After landing in Marine One, Trump walked up the stairs of the South Portico, removed his mask and looked over the balcony.
The president was near an official photographer, and other staffers could be seen behind him. He did not put his mask back on as he turned to walk back into the White House.
Trump went to Walter Reed late Friday afternoon, a move the White House said was done out of an abundance of caution. He spent several days at the hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19 and left on Monday.
White House physician Sean Conley told reporters on Monday that Trump was healthy enough to leave the hospital, citing his vitals and clinical evaluations. But he acknowledged that the president, who is 74 and overweight and thus at risk for severe complications, was not out of the woods yet.
Collins, however, added that she was “shocked” Trump was discharged from the hospital so quickly.