Good morning. For the remainder of election season, First Thing will be dedicated to covering the biggest stories from the campaign trail – and some smaller but no less relevant ones from off the beaten track. But today’s headline news is unavoidable…
A still-contagious Donald Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed military hospital on Monday evening, and immediately removed his mask for a photo op on the Truman balcony, where he appeared to be short of breath as he posed for cameras. In a campaign video shot moments later, however, the president insisted he was “better” following three days of hospital treatment for Covid-19 – and perhaps even “immune” to the disease.
Trump’s reported desperation to leave hospital and get back to campaigning while still in the throes of the illness is a sign of his willingness to sacrifice anyone – even those closest to him – to spare himself the humiliation of a one-term presidency, writes Julian Borger: “He has produced a toxic workplace to the point of potential lethality.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has tested positive for Covid-19, she announced on Monday.
Another guest from the Rose Garden event for Amy Coney Barrett has also tested positive. Megachurch Pastor Greg Laurie said in a Facebook post that his symptoms were so far “mild”.
Trump’s team and the wider world might have hoped the president would learn something from his personal experience of the virus, writes Francine Prose:
We’d like to believe that suffering instructs and ennobles; that our grief, fear and pain increases our sympathy for the grief, fear and pain of others. But again, Donald Trump seems to be ineducable, impervious to shame, guilt, or any sense of personal responsibility, unaffected by anything except vanity, selfishness and reckless self-regard.
Fauci thinks an experimental antibody treatment helped Trump
The administration’s top coronavirus expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, warned on Monday that Trump was “still early” in the potential progression of Covid-19, and that the president could yet suffer a “reversal”. Doctors at Walter Reed also explained that although Trump had met the criteria for discharge, he was “not yet out of the woods”.
In the same interview with CNN, Dr Fauci said he suspected that Trump’s condition had improved thanks to an experimental antibody cocktail from the drugmaker Regeneron, which is yet to be approved by the FDA but was administered to Trump on “compassionate” grounds.
Biden’s blunt message to Trump: ‘masks matter’
A recent poll found that two in three people believe Trump bears some personal responsibility for having caught the coronavirus. Appearing at an NBC television town hall event in Miami on Monday night, Joe Biden said he agreed with them. “Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying, masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them,” the Democratic nominee told Lester