Donald Trump returned to the White House on October 5 following a three-day stay at Walter Reed Military Medical Center after testing positive for coronavirus. However, the president hasn’t been seen in public since he gave a salute and two thumbs up from the balcony on Monday.
On October 7, The Lincoln Project, a group of former Republicans who oppose Trump, fueled speculation on the president’s whereabouts with the hashtag “#WhereIsTrump,” which immediately went viral with users online sharing their personal thoughts on his two-day absence.
While the president shared another pre-taped video on October 7, it was not a live media appearance. CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale pointed out on Twitter that Trump had no public events scheduled for October 8, which is notable since the election is only 30 days away.
The Lincoln Project’s official account tweeted out to their 2.4 million followers, “Trump hasn’t been seen on camera for 44 hours. Where is the president? We need 5000 people to respond to this tweet with #WhereIsTrump. Come out of the basement, Donald.”
Within the hour, many more than 5,000 people responded to their speculative tweet. While Trump has remained extremely active on Twitter, after The Lincoln Project’s tweet, users online speculated that Trump must be attempting to hide the severity of his COVID-19 symptoms from the public, despite positive reports from the president’s physician Dr. Sean Conley.
Many Twitter users pulled directly from Trump’s statements in the pre-taped video he posted on Twitter after leaving Walter Reed. In the clip, Trump urges Americans to not be afraid of COVID-19 and to not “let it dominate you.” Other users online compared Trump’s current campaign activities to that of former Vice President Joe Biden.
One person tweeted, “Biden is doing town halls, making speeches in Gettysburg, and working his ass off, while Trump is hiding in The White House sleepy as f***. #WhereIsTrump.”
Another person speculated, “#WhereIsTrump? They posted his marine so we would think he was in the oval, but I think he left through the underground tunnels to go back to Walter Reed!”
Trump Supporters Defended the President’s Absence
Some Twitter users felt Trump was being wrongfully attacked for his media absence. One person tweeted, “The Lincoln Project can eat my ass. #WhereIsTrump? The White House, you miserable cretin. He’s in the fucking White House. Where he lives. Where he is supposed to be staying indoors to quarantine because he has #COVID. Like everyone is supposed to do if they get COVID. The F***.”
Christian conservative Carmine Sabia tweeted, “Trump is seen on camera – Oh no. He is going to infect everyone. It is invasion of the virus snatchers. Sound the alarm. Trump not seen on camera for 48 hours – #WhereIsTrump?”
Trump Appeared to Have Trouble Breathing Outside the White House, Adding Further Speculation About the President’s Whereabouts
Trump was discharged from the hospital on Monday. 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. … I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
The president also said his illness would not derail his campaign efforts. He tweeted, “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!! The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls.”
Aside from concern for the safety and wellbeing of White House staffers with Trump’s return, Twitter users commented on how Trump appeared to have trouble breathing after removing his mask. One person tweeted, “Closeup video of trump on the balcony clearly shows that he is still having difficulty breathing.”
Numerous people on Twitter commented on Trump’s breathing after he walked up the White House steps. One person tweeted, “I know what it’s like not to be able to breath. More asthma attacks than I can count. When I watch the tape of Trump getting back to the White House…I am willing to bet he is still having breathing issues & will be back at Walter Reed shortly. Can’t believe a word he says.”
Conley, the president’s physician, said during a press conference before Trump’s release that he was not fully “out of the woods” for another week. Trump and first lady Melania Trump first announced that they tested positive for COVID-19 early on Friday, October 2. Based on that timeline, even if his symptoms have subsided, he may still be highly contagious to those he comes in contact with, according to the CDC.