President Donald Trump will make his first public appearance since returning from a three-day hospitalization for Covid-19, setting the stage for a return to the campaign trail even as questions remain about whether he’s still contagious.
In a Saturday address from a White House balcony before hundreds of invited guests, Trump will seek to show that he has made a strong recovery from coronavirus and is ready to resume work and re-enter the re-election race against Democratic nominee and front-runner Joe Biden.
The event kicks off what could be a full week of campaign travel for the president, starting Monday with a stop in central Florida for a rally at the Orlando Sanford International Airport to make up for one canceled when Trump fell ill.
Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony on Oct. 5.
Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images
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.
The White House event comes at the earliest moment doctors said the president would be able to return to public life. The gathering risks 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 must bring masks with them and wear them on the grounds, a person familiar with the matter said, adding that they also have to undergo a Covid-19 screening on Saturday morning that will include a temperature check and a brief questionnaire. But those rules were put in place not by the White House but by the organizer of the event, the Blexit group, led by Candace Owens, a Trump ally, the person said.
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