Trump says he’s planning rally for Saturday while ‘muting mic’ to hide cough in interview

Doctors say president can resume public duties

Matt Mathers
Friday 09 October 2020 11:35
Trump clears throat during Fox News interview

President Donald Trump has said he could return to the campaign trail as early as Saturday - while coughing in an interview and dodging questions on when he last tested negative for Covid-19.

“I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we can, if we have enough time to put it together," Mr Trump, 74, told Fox News's Sean Hannity during a phone-in on Thursday night.

“But we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night, might come back and do one in Pennsylvania, on the following night," he added.

The president is still recovering from coronavirus, having tested positive for the disease late last Thursday night. He spent the weekend in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he received supplemental oxygen and a cocktail of drugs to treat the illness.

Throughout his reelection campaign, the president has held large-scale campaign rallies, some of which have been attended by thousands of tightly packed together supporters, many of whom did not wear face coverings or practise social distancing.

One event held in Tulsa, Oklahoma in July was the "likely" source of a surge in coronavirus infections, local health officials said. But the president has repeatedly claimed his events have "no negative effect" in terms of spreading coronavirus.

During Thursday's 30-minute interview, the president was evasive when quizzed by Mr Hannity when he last tested negative for the disease, which has claimed some 213,000 US lives and crippled the economy. 

“Well what we’re doing is, probably the test will be tomorrow. The actual test, because there’s no reason to test all the time," he said when asked if he had been tested since last week.

Mr Trump sounded coarse throughout the interview; he coughed at least once and on another occasion appeared to put his phone on mute after clearing his throat.

The interview came just hours hours after White House doctors gave the commander-in-chief the all clear to resume public duties. Dr Sean Conley said it would be 10 days since the president’s initial diagnosis on 1 October, and that Mr Trump has not shown any symptoms of coronavirus since leaving Walter Reed Medical Centre on Monday.

In a statement released late on Thursday, Mr Conley said Mr Trump responded to the experimental antibody cocktail and steroid treatment without evidence of adverse effects.

“Since returning home, his physical exam has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness,” Mr Conley said.

Returning to public engagements on Saturday would give the president 24 days of campaigning ahead of the 3 November election.

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