Trump downplays Covid-19 on return to White House as Biden says wearing a mask should be seen as ‘patriotic’

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening, downplaying the virus that put him in the hospital for three nights and has killed more than 200,000 Americans.

Here’s what we’re watching this Tuesday morning.

‘Maybe I’m immune’ to Covid-19, Trump says in video after return to White House

President Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening after being treated for Covid-19 for three days at Walter Reed Medical Center — and immediately took off his mask to pose for pictures before walking inside.

The highly choreographed moment on the Truman Balcony came hours after Trump tweeted: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

Doctors, scientists and public health experts were outraged by the president’s comments downplaying the virus that has killed more than 211,000 people in the United States, according to NBC News latest count.

And the majority of Americans — 65 percent — are still very much afraid of the virus and are worried about someone in their family being exposed to it, according to the latest NBC News| SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll.

But the president was more interested in projecting an optimistic and confident image of a man who’d beaten the virus.

“I learned so much about the coronavirus,” he said in one of two campaign videos he filmed on his arrival back at the White House. He described the top-of-the-line treatment he’d received as proof the virus could be contained. “Now I’m better. Maybe I’m immune. I don’t know,” Trump said.

Earlier in the day Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said that the president had improved enough to go back to the White House, but added the 74-year-old “may not be entirely out of the woods yet.”

Some medical experts questioned Trump’s speedy exit from the hospital, saying the first seven to 10 days of the illness are a critical period when things can quickly take a turn for the worse.

And despite Trump’s jubilant return to the White House, the mood inside the West Wing was less triumphant as Covid-19 infections continue to spread among staffers, NBC News’ Shannon Pettypiece reports.

“Folks are dropping like flies over here,” a White House official said. “S— is very crazy.”

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was the latest in a string of Trump administration aides and allies who have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days. The White House has become a center for a coronavirus outbreak affecting low-level aides to senators and some of Trump’s closest advisers, like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is in a hospital.

Follow our live blog for the latest updates on Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.

Biden says wearing masks should be seen as a ‘patriotic responsibility’

Meantime, in a town hall with NBC News’ Lester Holt in Miami on Monday night, Democratic nominee Joe Biden said that Trump bears some responsibility for contracting Covid-19.

“Look, anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t

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