Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020

Coughing Trump says he feels 'so good' and plans to hold a rally on Saturday

Donald Trump has said he is feeling ‘perfect’ and plans to get back on the campaign trail this weekend.

The president, who has not been seen in public since his return from a military hospital where he received experimental treatment for Covid-19, sounded hoarse and occasionally had to pause to clear his throat during a telephone interview with Fox News on Thursday.

He told host Sean Hannity he wanted to hold a rally in Florida on Saturday night ‘if we have enough time to put it together’ and possibly stage another on the way back.

Mr Trump said he still hasn’t tested negative for coronavirus because there is ‘no reason to test all the time’, but added: ‘I don’t think I’m contagious at all.’

His physician, Navy Commander Sean Conley, said in a memo Thursday that Mr Trump would be able to safely ‘return to public engagements’ on Saturday, citing CDC guidance which says individuals can discontinue isolation 10 days after the onset of symptoms – which would be October 1 in the president’s case.

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 ‘I feel so good,’ the president said.

‘I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night, if we have enough time to put it together. But we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night.’

He added that he was considering a second rally in Pennsylvania ‘the following night’, but did not give any specific locations.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump’s doctors suggested they would work closely with military medical research facilities and other laboratories on ‘advanced diagnostic testing’ to determine when the president was no longer contagious.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said two negative PCR lab tests 24 hours apart are a key factor in determining whether someone is still contagious.

He added: ‘So, if the president goes 10 days without symptoms, and they do the tests that we were talking about, then you could make the assumption, based on good science, that he is not infected.’

While reports of reinfection are rare, the CDC recommends that even people who recover from Covid-19 continue to wear a mask, stay distanced and follow other precautions.

It remains unclear if Mr Trump, who shunned mask-wearing in most settings, would abide by that guidance.

The White House, meanwhile, continued to decline to share when Mr Trump last tested negative for the virus – which would help pinpoint when he was infected.

Strategic communications director Alyssa Farah said that information was Mr Trump’s ‘private medical history’.

The president’s campaign and the White House were already drawing up plans for him to resume campaigning, eyeing a visit to Pennsylvania on Monday and Michigan on Tuesday ahead of what was to have been next Thursday’s second debate.

But the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that event would be held ‘virtually’ in order to ‘protect the health and safety of all involved’ – a development swiftly rejected by Mr Trump.

His campaign later called on the commission to delay the final two debates by a week to alleviate concerns about an in-person contest.

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