Trump to hold in-person event at White House despite possibly still being contagious, reports say

President’s personal physician gives OK to return to public engagements

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Saturday 10 October 2020 00:22
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Trump coughs during Fox News interview

Donald Trump is planning to host his first in-person event on Saturday since testing positive for Covid-19 just over a week ago, and possibly still being contagious.

The president will give a speech from one of the balconies of the White House at an event billed as: “Remarks to peaceful protesters for law and order."

The president has also tweeted that he will hold a “BIG RALLY” on Monday in Sanford, Florida.

On Saturday a crowd will gather on the South Lawn and will include attendees of a previously scheduled event arranged by Candace Owens, the conservative activist whose group Blexit urges black Americans to leave the Democratic Party.

In the days since Trump’s diagnosis with the coronavirus, as many as 34 staffers at the White House are believed to have tested positive for the disease, including several key administration figures.

There are concerns that the apparently lax protocols the White House put in place to control the spread of the virus may not have been sufficiently amended and this could lead to Saturday becoming another super-spreader event. 

The Rose Garden ceremony to name Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court nominee led to a number of attendees contracting the virus. Few people wore masks or practised social distancing. 

The president, who was hospitalised for three nights at Walter Reed Medical Center before his return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday evening, has alarmed some health experts with his desire to return to the Oval Office and the campaign trail.

As Trump approaches the 10th day of infection, he could still be shedding virus particles and could therefore be contagious — though peak infectivity is believed to be at the onset of symptoms. 

The president is though at a fork in the road for coronavirus patients. 

After the initial stage in which the well-known symptoms of the virus begin — fever cough, fatigue, aches, gastrointestinal issues, loss of smell or taste — comes the immune overdrive phase in which chemical signals called cytokines can trigger a strong inflammatory response.

If this is not controlled it can lead to a need for mechanical ventilation as lungs fill with fluid and other organs struggle.

There is some confusion as to why the president was given the steroid dexamethasone apparently so early in his treatment when that is usually introduced to tamp down this reaction later on.

Trump coronavirus: President's condition may be entering crucial stage

Mr Trump could be heading for a bad stretch in a prolonged illness or he could be on an upward swing to recovery

While Trump has not been seen in public since his return from Walter Reed, he has conducted several lengthy phone interviews, including a two-hour segment on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on Friday lunchtime.

He also released three pre-recorded videos and will appear in a taped interview on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News on Friday night. 

His personal physician, Dr Sean Conley, has cleared him to return to campaigning. 

Citing Saturday as day 10 since diagnosis, Dr Conley said: “Based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the president's safe return to public engagements at that time.”

Dr Conley and the White House have been criticised for issuing both contradictory and misleading statements regarding the president’s health, damaging the credibility of the updates. 

Trump told Sean Hannity on Thursday night that he would like to hold rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania on Saturday and Sunday, but according to reporting from Bloomberg there are no travels plans over the weekend.

Monday’s rally will be his first travel since a fundraiser at this golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

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