Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital and a non-military attending physician at Walter Reed Medical Center, spoke to Amy Robach on “Good Morning America” on Monday about the potential consequences involved in the president’s SUV ride near Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland.
Philips, who is not treating the president, tweeted on Sunday that he thought the event was “insanity” and that it risked the health and lives of the Secret Service agents involved in the spectacle. He expanded on his thought process early Monday morning.
“I have serious concerns that in any automobile, masks or not masks, there’s a very high risk of transmission,” said Philips. “And then add into the mix that that’s not any vehicle. That’s a hermetically-sealed vehicle that is designed to be impenetrable to chemical attacks. Therefore the amount of circulation inside is even poorer than we would expect from a normal vehicle. And as a physician, we look at the decisions we make as risks versus benefits.”
Philips continued: “I don’t know what the benefits of this political stunt were, but I do know what the risks were. And my concern is that perhaps the secret service agents that were inside don’t know the full risk of what they were up against there and what the real threats were. And so far as the military and Johns Hopkins physicians who are taking care of this patient, they’re excellent. But they’re also under undue pressure and a lot of influence outside of that normal physician-patient relationship.”
When Philips was asked about whether or not the American public should be concerned about the information they are receiving about the president’s health, Philips said that the doctors and nurses involved in Trump’s care have the utmost of integrity.
“The president is a patient,” explained Philips. “He has a right to privilege. But it’s difficult whenever the information provided to the constituents is filtered through a lens of trying to paint a rosy picture. And I don’t think that people were being dishonest. I just think that there’s difficulty whenever you’re pressured to say certain things and thrust into a job that these doctors were never expected to be thrust into.”