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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticised President Donald Trump for downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and returning to the White House without a mask. Donald Trump returned to the White House after he was discharged from the military hospital in Washington where he was admitted after testing positive for coronavirus.

Donald Trump, 74, left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday after his medical team said he had not had a fever in 72 hours and showed normal blood oxygen levels.

After arriving by helicopter in a mask, the president walked up the staircase of the White House South Portico, removed his mask, and posed for pictures, at times giving a thumbs-up and others a salute.

In a video released shortly after leaving the hospital, Donald Trump urged Americans to “get out there” and not to be afraid of the virus and “don’t let the virus dominate your lives”.

Joe Biden, who has made Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic a central theme of his campaign, focused on the president’s unwillingness to fully embrace masks. Joe Biden, when asked about Donald Trump removing his mask just before entering the White House, said masks matter and they save lives.

“I would hope that the president, having gone through what he went through and I’m glad he seems to be coming along pretty well, would communicate the right lesson to the American people. Masks matter,” Joe Biden said.

Joe Biden further said that he read a tweet where Donald Trump said there’s nothing to be concerned about when “there is a lot”.

“It saves lives, it prevents the spread of the disease. The only thing I heard was one of the tweets saying that, you know, don’t be so concerned about all this, essentially. There’s a lot to be concerned about. Two-hundred and 10 thousand people have died,” Joe Biden said.

When asked about the recent presidential debate with Donald Trump and if he was concerned about his own safety after Donald Trump tested positive, Joe Biden said he has been fastidious about social distancing.

“I’ve been fastidious about the social distancing. I’ve been fastidious about wearing a mask when I’m not socially distanced, and even then remaining socially distant. And so, we never got closer than you and I are right now, as well as when Melania came up with the stage, she smiled and waved and waved, I waved to her but it was the same distance,” Joe Biden said, adding that it was disconcerting that nobody from Donald Trump’s section wore masks.

“It was a little disconcerting to look out and see that his whole section, no one had masks on when my wife was who sitting further down had a mask on. The people with us had masks on. I didn’t quite get that,” Joe Biden said.

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