Trump’s efforts to project normalcy run into reality as virus courses through the White House, the Capitol and the Pentagon.

President Trump’s efforts to project normalcy after being hospitalized with Covid-19 a month before Election Day ran into a major stumbling block on Tuesday: the reality on the ground in Washington, where the coronavirus outbreak has upended the federal government.

  • The White House, the leading coronavirus hot spot in the nation’s capital, resembled a ghost town, with its most famous inhabitant convalescing in the residence, as a number of advisers and other officials stayed home, either because they had contracted the coronavirus or had been near people who did, including the press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who announced on Monday that she had tested positive.

  • The Capitol, a beehive workplace for 535 legislators and thousands of staff, was eerily empty on Tuesday after Senate leaders agreed to adjourn for two weeks beginning Monday, even as Republicans are trying to fast-track Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. More than 40 senators, along with more than a dozen congressional aides and reporters, have been tested for the coronavirus since late last week, officials said on Tuesday. Three Republican senators — Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — have tested positive in recent days.

  • Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with several of the Pentagon’s most senior uniformed leaders, was quarantining after being exposed to the coronavirus, a Defense Department official said on Tuesday. The official said almost the entirety of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Gen. James C. McConville, the Army chief of staff, are quarantining after Adm. Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive for coronavirus.

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White House claims Trump’s condition has not deteriorated from virus

This is a rush transcript from “The Five” October 2, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS HOST: Hello, everyone. I’m Dana Perino along with Dagen McDowell, Juan Williams, Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld. It’s 5 o’clock in New York City, and this is The Five.

President Trump and the first lady in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Now the news upending an already chaotic campaign season with the election just 32 days away. The president and first lady experiencing mild symptoms but they are said to be in good spirits. The White House doctor just releasing a statement on their condition.

So, we want to go to John Roberts, he’s at the White House with more on all of that. Hi, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dana, good afternoon. Yes, the president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, releasing a statement just a short time ago giving us an update of what the president’s situation here is.

Let’s put it on the screen so you can follow along here. Dr. Conley writing, following PCR confirmation of the president’s diagnosis, and this is the test where they stick that swab way, way up your nose. As a precautionary measure he received a single 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibodies, this is an experimental drug that has not received FDA approval. They are just finishing up phase three trials.

The president has been taking zinc, vitamin D which boosts his immune system, famotidine, which is a generic form of Pepcid, melatonin to help him sleep, and a daily aspirin. As of this afternoon the president remains fatigued but in good spirits. He’s being evaluated by a team of experts.

Today will be — together, rather, will be making recommendations to the president and first lady in regards to next best steps.

Nothing in there you’ll notice about taking hydroxychloroquine, as the president did preventively back in May along with azithromycin and zinc. In terms of the timeline, we know that the president was with Hope Hicks, a close advisor of his on several recent campaign events including one to Minnesota on Wednesday where Ms. Hicks became ill and was actually isolated aboard Air Force One on the way back.

The president testing positive for coronavirus later on Thursday. Hope Hicks had tested positive earlier in the day. But the president is still taking a trip to Bedminster, New Jersey. Here’s what Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, said about the timing of all of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: In terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right the Marine One was taking off yesterday. We actually pulled some of the people that had been traveling and in close contact. The reason why it was reported out just frankly is that we had already started the contact tracing just prior to that event.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And Dana, we were

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Michelle Obama expresses empathy for White House staff ‘touched by this virus’ and urges Americans to vote.

The former first lady Michelle Obama, one of the Democratic Party’s most respected figures, delivered what the Biden campaign called her “closing argument” for Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s candidacy on Tuesday, speaking in deeply personal terms to Americans disillusioned by politics about the need to vote.

In a 24-minute video, Mrs. Obama appealed to parents and young people, white working-class Americans and people of color, lashing President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus — “he continues to gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat,” she said — and warning that Mr. Trump’s habit of stoking division could be an effective political tool. She urged voting as the best remedy.

“We can expect that this election will be won by the slimmest of margins, just like it was four years ago,” Mrs. Obama said. “A handful of votes per precinct in Pennsylvania, or Arizona, or Wisconsin, or Florida, or anywhere else will make all the difference.”

As she released the video on her own social media platforms, Mrs. Obama acknowledged Mr. Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis. She alluded to his decision to return to the White House while still receiving treatment for the virus, and the choice to take a drive outside of the hospital on Sunday, a move that some medical experts saw as dangerous for the Secret Service agents around the president.

“My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know,” she wrote on Twitter.

In the video, Mrs. Obama appeared to speak implicitly to white voters who are struggling economically and are put off by terms like white privilege.

“It is frustrating to hear some folks say that you’ve been the beneficiary of privilege, that the color of your skin gives you a head start,” she said. “But right now, the president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them. They’re stoking fears about Black and brown Americans.”

That approach, she said, is “morally wrong, and yes, it is racist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work.”

“As a Black woman who has — like the overwhelming majority of people of color in this nation — done everything in my power to live a life of dignity, and service, and honesty, the knowledge that any of my fellow Americans is more afraid of me than the chaos we are living through right now, well, that hurts,” Mrs. Obama said.“Imagine how it feels to wake up every day and do your very best to uphold the values that this country claims to holds dear — truth, honor, decency — only to have those efforts met by scorn, not just by your fellow citizens, but by a sitting president.”

Mrs. Obama said on Twitter

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White House Ignores Local Mandates, Giving Virus a New Hold in D.C.

WASHINGTON — In recent months, as coronavirus cases rose around the country, the nation’s capital and most of its surrounding suburbs managed to bring infection rates down, through strict preventive laws and a largely compliant population.

But the recent outbreak at the White House and on Capitol Hill underscored how difficult it is for a city with almost no control over the federal government — and where senior officials have sometimes worked at counter purposes on containing the virus — to sustain progress.

An event on Sept. 26 in the Rose Garden, after which a number of officials including President Trump tested positive for the virus, violated the city’s mandates limiting the size of gatherings and requiring masks. Because the White House is on federal property, however, it is exempt from such rules. Guests at the event may well have ventured into the city, but the White House has refused to comply with a municipal request for help with contact tracing. The city had its highest number of positive cases on Monday — 105 — since June, though city officials say it would take several days to determine any trend.

At least one testing site in Washington reported that those seeking a test doubled to 600 on Monday as residents responded with concern to the cases stemming from the White House and Capitol Hill.

The federal government’s disconnect from the city in which it operates, and where many of its staff members live, was perhaps best demonstrated last weekend when a number of White House officials, some of them senior, frantically called officials at the office of Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland for help getting tested. Mr. Hogan has been lauded for his management of the crisis. But the White House officials apparently were unaware of the city’s numerous and rapid testing sights.

More than 40 senators, about evenly divided between the two parties, and numerous Capitol staff members have sought coronavirus tests since late last week, when it became clear the White House was a hot spot for transmission and three Republican senators — Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — tested positive for the virus. Nearly half of all senators are 65 or older, and the House is not much younger.

The cases stemming from the White House will not increase the official number of positive cases, city officials said, because the White House has not shared positive test results with state or local health agencies. City officials said they would be closely monitoring infection trends for several days to see if the Capitol and White House cases affected the city’s overall infection rate.

“The District of Columbia takes seriously its role as the seat of the federal government and would not infringe on the essential functions of government,” said John Falcicchio, the chief of staff to Muriel E. Bowser, Washington’s mayor. “However, better coordination would allow for a more robust response in this public health emergency.”

Even more concerning

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White House: Trump looking to ‘project image of strength’ even as recovers from virus

He was said to be considering an address to the nation but that no decisions had been made.

Tuesday’s developments follow his dramatic exit out the golden front doors of Walter Reed Medical Center, the masked president walked down the tiered steps of the hospital to his awaiting motorcade. After flying over Washington in a ten-minute helicopter that coincided with the national evening newscasts, the president emerged from Marine One and climbed the steps to the South Portico, determined to show he had beaten the virus.

In an unmistakable message, the still-contagious president then removed his mask as he paused there for two minutes and gazed into the distance and saluted as Marine One lifted off, posing for the cameras.

His mask still off, the president then turned to walk inside the Blue Room of the White House, where people could be seen inside.

The president then taped a video message that was later posted to his Twitter account along with a promotional video, set to dramatic music, of his return.

“I learned so much about coronavirus. And one thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re gonna beat it,” Trump said into the camera.

“Don’t let it dominate. Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen,” Trump said.

The president’s

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Trump continues to downplay virus after returning to White House

Washington — President Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday evening, hours after the medical team treating him for COVID-19 cautioned that he’s “not out of the woods yet.” He got back to the White House shortly before 7 p.m., where he took off his mask and gave a thumbs up before walking inside.

He soon tweeted a minute-long video from the balcony, saying he’d “learned so much about coronavirus” and believes he might be immune to it. “One thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you,” he said of COVID-19. “Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it.”

In a tweet Tuesday morning, the president again compared COVID-19 to the flu, which is much less lethal and contagious than the coronavirus. He said Americans “have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid.” More than 210,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The president’s attitude alarmed many infectious disease experts, who said he should have stressed precautions Americans should take to try to avoid getting the coronavirus.

Earlier Monday, Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, told reporters Mr. Trump will be “surrounded by world-class medical care, 24/7” at the White House.

He’s being treated with dexamethasone, a powerful steroid recommended for use in severe cases of COVID-19. The drug can carry serious psychological side effects, but Conley said the president hasn’t exhibited any of them. He repeatedly declined to provide specifics about the president’s lung condition or the last time Mr. Trump tested negative for the virus, citing federal privacy laws.

President Trump Recuperates Amid Questions About His Health And Campaign
President Trump holds his protective mask on the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, October 5, 2020.

Ken Cedeno/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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White House staff, Secret Service eye virus with fear, anger

WASHINGTON — The West Wing is a ghost town. Staff members are scared of exposure. And the White House is now a treatment ward for not one — but two — COVID patients, including a president who has long taken the threat of the virus lightly.

President Donald Trump’s decision to return home from a military hospital despite his continued illness is putting new focus on the people around him who could be further exposed if he doesn’t abide by strict isolation protocols.

Throughout the pandemic, White House custodians, ushers, kitchen staff and members of the U.S. Secret Service have continued to show up for work in what is now a coronavirus hot spot, with more than a dozen known cases this week alone.

Trump, still contagious, has made clear that he has little intention of abiding by best containment practices.

As he arrived back at the White House on Monday evening, the president defiantly removed his face mask and stopped to pose on a balcony within feet of a White House photographer. He was seen inside moments later, surrounded by numerous people as he taped a video message urging Americans not to fear a virus that has killed more than 210,000 in the U.S. and 1 million worldwide.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said the White House was “taking every precaution necessary” to protect not just the first family but “every staff member working on the complex” consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and best practices. He added that physical access to the president would be significantly limited and appropriate protective gear worn by those near him.

Nonetheless, the mood within the White House remains somber, with staff fearful they may have been exposed to the virus. As they confront a new reality — a worksite that once seemed like a bubble of safety is anything but — they also have been engaged in finger-pointing over conflicting reports released about the president’s health as well as a lack of information provided internally.

Many have learned about positive tests from media reports and several were exposed, without their knowledge, to people the White House already knew could be contagious.

Indeed, it took until late Sunday night, nearly three full days after Trump’s diagnosis, for the White House to send a staff-wide note in response. Even then, it did not acknowledge the outbreak.

“As a reminder,” read the letter from the White House Management Office, “if you are experiencing any symptoms … please stay home and do not come to work.” Staff who develop symptoms were advised to “go home immediately” and contact their doctors rather than the White House Medical Unit.

Even when Trump was at the hospital, his staff was not immune to risk.

Trump had aides there recording videos and taking photographs of him. On Sunday evening, he took a surprise drive around the hospital to wave to supporters from the window of an SUV. The Secret Service agents in the car with him were

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Kamala Harris and Mike Pence Set to Debate as Virus Spreads at White House

(Bloomberg) — Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will take the stage Wednesday night under extraordinary circumstances that will elevate the oft-forgotten vice presidential debate to the highest-stakes running mate matchup in years.

With President Donald Trump fresh out of the hospital but still battling the coronavirus, both Pence and Harris will have to reassure voters that they can step into the presidency if either of the septuagenarians who top the tickets become incapacitated.

A week after Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden squared off in a combative and chaotic debate, Pence and Harris will meet at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City under dramatically different circumstances. Not only have the safety precautions become stricter since at least 10 people who live or work at the White House have become infected, but the tone is expected to be more civil as well.



Mike Pence, Kamala Harris are posing for a picture: Pence Harris duo


© Source: Bloomberg
Pence Harris duo

Mike Pence and Kamala Harris

Source: Bloomberg

The debate will be divided into nine discussion categories, each lasting about 10 minutes.

Although the Trump campaign opposed it, Harris’s staff won an argument to have a plexiglass shield separating her and Pence, who has tested negative for the virus that sent Trump to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for three days. The candidates will be a little more than 12 feet (3.7 meters) apart, and the moderator, Susan Page of USA Today, will also be that distance, the Commission on Presidential Debates said Monday.

Read More: Pence Urges Trump’s Re-Election With Law-and-Order Battle Cry

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask will be “escorted out,” the commission said. The first family and some of Trump’s guests refused to wear masks at last week’s debate.

“This VP debate will get a lot more attention than they usually do,” said Charlie Black, a veteran Republican strategist. “So it’s an opportunity for both candidates. I actually expect a good debate. Pence does a good job of presenting the president’s case, his accomplishments and his ideas in a calm, measured manner. Harris has proved to be a good debater.”

The candidates are also less likely to sling the ad hominem attacks that highlighted the Sept. 29 debate in Cleveland between Trump and Biden. Harris will have to restrain the punches she used in her own presidential run.

She has re-upped some of her lines since joining the Biden ticket, including calling Trump a “predator.” But with the president just a day or so out of the hospital, she is expected to shelve those attacks. That doesn’t mean she’ll hold back on criticizing the administration for what Democrats say is a gross mismanagement of the pandemic, especially given that Pence leads the White House coronavirus task force.

“It’s the perfect microcosm for the failure of the Trump administration on coronavirus,” Democratic strategist Joel Payne said. “They became their own super spreader. They didn’t follow best practices. Harris can really effectively use this last week as exhibit A of why Trump and Pence are dangerous and

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Covid-19 Live Updates: Back at White House, Trump Minimizes Virus Risk

Here’s what you need to know:

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Trump Leaves Hospital, but Doctor Says He Isn’t ‘Out of the Woods’

President Trump left the Walter Reed medical center after spending three nights there being treated for Covid-19. His physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, said earlier in the day that the president was not “out of the woods yet.”

[camera shutters] [from off-camera] “Mr. President, how many staff are sick?” “How many of your staff are sick?” [President Trump] “Thank you very much. Thank you.” [from off-camera] “Do you think you might be a superspreader, Mr. President?” [camera shutters]

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President Trump left the Walter Reed medical center after spending three nights there being treated for Covid-19. His physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, said earlier in the day that the president was not “out of the woods yet.”

President Trump returned to the White House on Monday night, staging a defiant, made-for-television moment in which he ripped off his face mask and then urged the nation to put aside the risks of the deadly coronavirus that has swept through his own staff and sent him to the hospital for three days.

Just hours after his press secretary and two more aides tested positive, making the White House the leading coronavirus hot spot in the nation’s capital, Mr. Trump again dismissed the pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States, telling Americans “don’t be afraid of it” and saying that he felt “better than 20 years ago.”

The words and visuals were only the latest ways Mr. Trump has undermined public health experts trying to persuade Americans to take the pandemic seriously. Even afflicted by the disease himself, the president who has wrongly predicted that it would simply disappear appeared unchastened as he pressed America to reopen and made no effort to promote precautions.

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Trump Removes Mask Despite Covid-19 Infection

After President Trump arrived at the White House from the hospital on Monday, he climbed stairs to a balcony and took off his mask.

[no speech]

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After President Trump arrived at the White House from the hospital on Monday, he climbed stairs to a balcony and took off his mask.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

“We’re going back to work. We’re going to be out front,” Mr. Trump said in a video shot immediately after his return and then posted online. “As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s OK. And now I’m better and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives.”

Mr. Trump’s statement was meant to cast his illness as an act of courage rather than the predictable outcome of recklessness. He took no responsibility for repeatedly ignoring public health guidelines by

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Vaunted White House virus testing couldn’t protect Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — His press secretary once described President Donald Trump as the “most tested man in America” when it came to COVID-19. And variations on that message were the White House ready response any time critics questioned the president’s lax approach to following guidelines for avoiding the novel coronavirus.



A member of the cleaning staff sprays The James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


© Provided by Associated Press
A member of the cleaning staff sprays The James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)



A member of the cleaning staff wears a protective suit as she sprays The James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


© Provided by Associated Press
A member of the cleaning staff wears a protective suit as she sprays The James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

But that vaunted testing operation proved woefully insufficient in protecting the president and those who work for him at the White House, as evidenced by a string of positive tests over the past week for Trump, his wife and others in their orbit.



A member of the cleaning staff in protective clothing sprays the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


© Provided by Associated Press
A member of the cleaning staff in protective clothing sprays the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump demonstrated in dramatic fashion that relying on testing alone isn’t enough to create a safe bubble. Mask wearing and social distancing are other key ingredients for preventing the spread of COVID-19, and both have often been in short supply at the White House.

From the earliest days of the virus, Trump has provided conflicting advice on wearing a mask, noting that federal health experts were recommending them, but adding that “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

At another point, he said that “maybe they’re great, and maybe they’re just good. Maybe they’re not so good.”

And just last week, he poked at Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden on the topic: “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet ways from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

While the White House has not insisted on masks, it has insisted on testing. Anyone in close proximity to the president or vice president is tested prior to the day’s events, including reporters. The president is also tested regularly, as are his most senior aides.

“He’s tested more than anyone, multiple times a day. And we believe that he’s acting appropriately,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in July when asked whether the president was sending mixed messages on mask wearing. McEnany herself tested positive for the virus on Monday, she said.

Video: Experts say they’re not surprised at Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis (MSNBC)

Experts say they’re not surprised at Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis

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A negative test result can sound reassuring, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a person is free from the coronavirus and not contagious. When the virus enters the body, it takes over a cell’s machinery to copy itself, while fending off the body’s immune defenses. But the

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