But Trump has brushed aside his advisers’ calls for caution, instead embracing a political strategy built on playing down the virus and using his own battle with it to argue that the nation has already overcome the pandemic.
“People are going to get immediately better like I did. I mean, I feel better now than I did two weeks ago. It’s crazy,” Trump told Rush Limbaugh on his talk radio show Friday, a day when more than 850 Americans died of the coronavirus. “And I recovered immediately, almost immediately. I might not have recovered at all from covid.”
Isolated in the White House for a fifth straight day as his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, campaigned in Nevada, Trump spent several hours Friday venting to friendly media hosts and plotting his swift return to the campaign trail even as the status of his coronavirus infection remained unclear.
As the president prepared to participate in a televised medical evaluation on Fox News on Friday evening, his aides began to plan for what they described as a triumphant return to campaigning in the wake of his diagnosis and four-day hospitalization.
Trump’s campaign announced that he would lead a rally in Florida on Monday at an airport hangar, similar to the events he had been doing before his diagnosis. There was no indication that extra safety precautions would be in place or that social distancing would be encouraged.
“All attendees will be given a temperature check, masks which they are encouraged to wear and access to hand sanitizer,” the campaign said, using language similar to previous announcements before events where few attendees wore masks.
While Trump’s doctor said Thursday that he expected the president to be able to resume his public engagements as early as Saturday, the White House did not provide evidence Friday that Trump had received a negative test for the coronavirus.
That did not stop Trump from claiming to be cured and working as normal from the Oval Office, where an official said he spent Friday afternoon. Trump has been eager to escape the confines of the White House and return to his crowded rallies with the election just over three weeks away.
A week after he was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with serious symptoms of covid-19, Trump and his campaign have embraced an it’s-not-that-bad messaging strategy about a virus that has killed more than 213,000 Americans.
The president has claimed to be immune, called his infection with the virus a “blessing from God” and falsely claimed that a cure exists for a disease that continues to kill thousands of Americans each week. His campaign has continued to hold large indoor events with surrogates, shunning social distancing. It has made little effort to engage in contact tracing after dozens of White House officials and campaign surrogates contracted the disease.
Trump’s event Saturday is scheduled to take place not far from the location of a Sept. 26 celebration now considered a superspreader event by public health officials after