Trump to appear at White House rally after Covid

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2020-54493575

A U.S. Marine is posted at the West Wing door, an indication that President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office as he remains out of public view while fighting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 9, 2020.Image copyright
Reuters

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The presence of a US Marine outside the West Wing suggested that Mr Trump was in the Oval Office on Friday

Donald Trump is due to host a public event at the White House later – his first since being ill with coronavirus.

The president, who says he is no longer taking medicines against Covid-19, will give a speech from the White House balcony to several hundred supporters gathered on the South Lawn below.

It is just over a week since Mr Trump announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

He said on Friday he was awaiting a fresh test result.

Saturday’s White House gathering, on the theme of law and order, is officially a presidential rather than campaign event.

Mr Trump also says he is planning to attend a “big rally” in Florida on Monday.

Florida is a battleground state in next month’s presidential election.

Polling suggests Democratic candidate Joe Biden has a single-digit lead over Mr Trump and an ABC News/Ipsos poll found that just 35% of Americans approved of how Mr Trump has handled the coronavirus crisis.

What is the latest on the president’s health?

Mr Trump told Fox News that he was feeling “really, really strong” and was no longer on medication, having had his “final doses of just about everything”.

On Thursday the president’s doctor Sean Conley said that it would be safe for him to return to public engagements on Saturday [10 October] as that would mark “day 10” since his diagnosis on Thursday 1 October.

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Reuters

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Mr Trump hasn’t been seen in public since he returned to the White House after his hospital treatment on 5 October

Following his diagnosis with Covid-19 Mr Trump spent three nights in hospital and was treated with the steroid dexamethasone, the antiviral drug remdesivir and a cocktail of manufactured antibodies made by the company Regeneron.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends self-isolation for at least 10 days after coronavirus symptoms first appear, with more severe illness, such as that requiring hospital treatment, potentially needing up to 20 days.

What’s happening at the White House?

With just over three weeks to go until the election on 3 November, Mr Trump is keen to get back on the campaign trail.

All attendees at Saturday’s event on the South Lawn will be required to wear masks, will be given temperature checks and encouraged to social distance, said the White House.

Mr Trump’s Democratic opponent Joe Biden expressed disbelief at the president’s plans to hold rallies and criticised the Trump administration’s lax stance on mask use as reckless.

Mr Trump has expressed scepticism about measures such as masks and lockdowns to combat the spread of Covid-19, which has killed more than 213,000 people in the US. He has talked up the prospect of a vaccine becoming available, although researchers say this is unlikely to happen before next year at the earliest.

Meanwhile top US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci said that a gathering at the White House last month appeared to be linked to an outbreak of Covid-19.

Dr Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court was a “superspreader event”.

At least 11 people who attended the event on 26 September subsequently tested positive.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, one of those who attended and became ill with Covid-19, said on Saturday that he had been released from hospital. Thanking his doctors, he said he would have more to say about all of this next week.

The president’s wife, Melania Trump, was also infected but has not needed hospital treatment. She said five days ago that she was feeling good and would continue to rest at home.

As many as 34 White House aides and other contacts have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days, according to US media.

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health said nine infections have been tied to Mr Trump’s 18 September campaign rally in the state.

At least one person was infectious when they attended, officials say, and two cases have led to hospital admissions, with one of those people in intensive care.

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Media captionFour Covid rules broken by Trump and the White House

What about the debates?

Next week’s second presidential debate between Mr Trump and Mr Biden has been officially cancelled.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement on Friday that both campaigns had announced “alternate plans for that date”.

Mr Trump had baulked at a request from the commission to hold the 15 October showdown virtually to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus.

The commission said it was still making arrangements for the third and final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, on 22 October. 

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Reuters

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Joe Biden spent Friday campaigning in Nevada

The Trump campaign said the commission was “biased” towards Mr Biden, while the Democrat’s team accused the president of ducking the debate.

Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in Washington, on Friday announced legislation to establish a commission to assess a president’s fitness for office.

Mrs Pelosi said it was not meant to rule on Mr Trump’s condition. In any case, any serious consideration of the measure before the election is unlikely.

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