“I learned a lot about Covid,” the president of the United States assured his fellow citizens, looking straight into the camera on Day 3 of his stay at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
But what have Americans learned?
It may just be how little they still seem to know about the virus — and about the most famous patient in the world.
When did President Trump and his aides first realize he might be infected? When exactly did his treatment begin? Did he know he might be ill and meet with supporters anyway? And were his doctors being fully forthcoming about just how he sick he might be?
There were questions, too, about just what a president who has mocked mask wearing, encouraged crowded political rallies, advanced dubious treatments and at times even dismissed the seriousness of the virus threat has learned from his own personal encounter with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“I get it, and I understand it,” Mr. Trump said in the video he posted from the Walter Reed military hospital in Bethesda, Md., late Sunday afternoon. But it was anyone’s guess if he was chagrined at the situation he now found himself in. Officials on his campaign have continued to defend his flouting of public health guidelines; over the weekend, they refused to acknowledge that it could have led to his infection and the infections of other Republicans.
The president did not use the video as an opportunity to urge people to be careful: to wear masks and maintain social distance. He did use it to laud his political supporters, some of whom were gathered outside the hospital complex.
Then, seasoned reality show performer that he is, he broke the fourth wall, confiding to viewers that he planned to pay those supporters a surprise visit.
A little while later, he made good on his word. The president infected with a disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans got into a tightly sealed S.U.V. accompanied by Secret Service agents for a quick drive-by wave.