President Donald Trump waves to supporters as he briefly rides by in the presidential motorcade in front of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he is being treated for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bethesda, Maryland, October 4, 2020.
  • US President Donald Trump reportedly demanded to leave the hospital on Sunday but doctors urged him against it.
  • Trump's controversial car ride outside of the hospital was a compromise, the New York Times reported.
  • Medical professionals said that Trump needlessly put the lives of Secret Service agents at risk.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump demanded to leave Walter Reed on Sunday, according to reports from CNN and the New York Times, but doctors urged him against doing so. 

The car ride that Trump took near the hospital, which put Secret Service agents at risk, was a compromise, according to the Times. 

Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week and was subsequently taken to Walter Reed, is reportedly concerned that he looks "weak" being in the hospital. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

The president could be seen in the back seat of a car on Sunday wearing a mask and waving to supporters. On Twitter, Trump described the ride as a "little surprise visit to some of the patriots we have out on the street."

But medical experts had a different take. 

Dr. James P. Phillips, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University who is also an attending physician at Walter Reed, said Trump's car ride unnecessarily put lives at risk. 

"Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity," Phillips tweeted.

"That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of Covid-19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures," Phillips added. "The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play."

Beyond medical professionals, current and former Secret Service agents were also alarmed by the incident.

"He's not even pretending to care now," one agent told the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution. 

The White House defended the move against the swift backlash.

"Appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the president and all those supporting it," White House spokesperson Judd Deere told reporters on Sunday.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows downplayed Trump's risky car ride in a "Fox & Friends" interview on Monday. 

"Here's the interesting thing — they're criticising, 'well, he put his Secret Service agents at risk.' Well, the Secret Service agents — how do we think he got here?" Meadows said.

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