President Donald Trump on Saturday made his first major public appearance since returning to the White House after being hospitalized for coronavirus last weekend.
The President wore a mask which he removed as he approached the podium — taking a dramatic pause before making his remarks to the cheers of hundreds of supporters who gathered on the South Lawn in spite of warnings from public health officials.
“I’m feeling great,” Trump told the crowd, although the White House has provided little evidence that Trump is no longer contagious amid his recovery from coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious diseases expert, cautioned the White House to avoid large gatherings — especially where people are not wearing masks– after a Supreme Court nomination ceremony on Sept. 26 turned into what he called a “super-spreader event” that resulted in a cluster of new cases among its attendees and other White House staffers in recent weeks.
During a Fox News interview on Friday, Trump was also not able to definitively report that he had tested negative for coronavirus which CDC officials have said is key indicator to determine whether or not a person is still contagious.
“I have been retested, and I haven’t even found out numbers or anything yet. But I’ve been retested, and I know I’m at either the bottom of the scale or free,” he said at the time.
Prior to Saturday’s event the President had not appeared publicly since his return less than one week ago from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he was administered steroids, supplemental oxygen and experimental treatments for COVID-19. Bandages could still be seen on one of his hands on Saturday as he addressed the crowd.
Earlier in the week, the President appeared in highly choreographed White House-produced videos, projecting an image of strength in a clip on Wednesday where he suggested that falling ill with coronavirus for him had been a “blessing from God.”
In his remarks on Saturday President Trump kept with an old and widely disputed narrative that the coronavirus was largely fading saying — “it’s going to disappear, it is disappearing.”
The remarks were delivered to a crowd of largely masked, but not socially-distanced, “Blexit” supporters who are campaigning to convince Black voters to leave the Democratic Party. The highly political address that the White House called a “peaceful protest for law & order” and billed as an official White House event strongly resembled a campaign rally — taking clear aim at the Democratic Party as Trump rebuked Democrats as the enemy in a sweeping condemnation of the “radical, socialist left.”
While the White House remains evasive about what sort of testing is underway to ensure Trump is noninfectious as he ramps up rallies again, Joe Biden’s campaign reported that the Democratic presidential nominee tested negative again on Saturday for COVID-19 after he was potentially exposed to the coronavirus during last month’s presidential debate.