President Donald Trump made his first public appearance on Saturday since returning from a three-day coronavirus hospitalization, telling supporters at the White House that “through the power of American science and medicine, we will eradicate the China Virus once and for all.”
“I want to thank you all for the prayers,” Trump said from a White House balcony at hundreds of invited guests at a campaign-style event on the South Lawn. Trump arrived wearing a mask and removed it before speaking.
Trump’s comments touched on several of his usual stump-speech topics, including suggestions of voter fraud. The remarks ran for about 18 minutes, much shorter than Trump’s typical freewheeling campaign speeches.
The appearance was designed to show the president — who declared he’s “feeling great” — has recovered from Covid-19 and is ready to resume work and his race against Democratic nominee Joe Biden. But the president appeared without certification from his doctors that he’s no longer contagious with the deadly virus, and despite the White House not releasing a formal update on his recovery since Thursday.
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while arriving to speak from the Truman Balcony of the White House on Oct. 10.
Photographer: Erin Scott/Bloomberg
Still, the president sat for at least three hours of radio and remote television interviews with conservative media personalities on Friday, and is expected to resume a heavy campaign travel schedule this week with rallies in Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa. Trump has been itching to return to public events following his battle with the coronavirus, aides say — an impatience only heightened by the president falling further behind Biden in polls.
Saturday’s event risked deepening concern among voters about Trump’s handling of a pandemic that has left more than two dozen of his close associates infected and more than 210,000 Americans dead.
After the president’s last outdoor event — a Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony to announce his pick of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court — at least 11 attendees tested positive for coronavirus. While the White House had a testing regime in place to screen for virus cases, few guests wore masks and attendees mingled and sat in close proximity to one another both indoors and outdoors.
Trump’s physician said Wednesday that the president had been free of symptoms for the previous 24 hours. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump “will be clear to go” on Saturday, when “he wants to talk to the American people.” There are medical tests underway to ensure he doesn’t transmit the virus when he returns to the campaign trail, she said on Fox News, adding that she’d conferred with White House doctor Sean Conley. McEnany, who herself has tested positive for Covid-19, is working remotely.
On Saturday, White House guests were required to bring masks with them and wear them on the grounds, a person familiar with the matter said, adding