President Trump plans to hold an in-person event at the White House on Saturday, an official confirmed to The Hill, his first public engagement since being diagnosed with the coronavirus last week.
ABC News, which first reported the plans, said that Trump would speak to an audience on the South Lawn from the balcony of the White House at an event being billed to invitees as remarks to peaceful protesters for law and order.
It is not clear how many individuals will attend the outdoor event. The setup suggests that Trump will not be close to any of his guests.
White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo Thursday that Trump would be able to make a safe return to public events by Saturday, which marks 10 days since Trumps diagnosis, and that he has responded extremely well to his treatment for COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that patients self-isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms from the coronavirus. Trump was diagnosed with the virus last Thursday night and was treated with the antiviral medication remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and an experimental antibody cocktail.
Some health experts have expressed skepticism with plans to allow Trump to return to public engagements so soon, noting that those with severe symptoms are told to isolate for longer, up to 20 days, and that there remains a risk that his symptoms could return or worsen.
Given the lack of transparency on his health its difficult to say whether the presidents case is moderate or severe. Certainly, he was given all the treatments that one would expect for a severe course, said Anand Parekh, chief medical advisor for the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Trump has been eager to get back to work and campaigning, with the 2020 election less than four weeks away. He worked from the Oval Office for three days straight this week, after being hospitalized for treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center over the weekend. White House officials say they have increased the use of personal protective gear for those coming in contact with Trump and kept the traffic through the Oval Office extremely limited.
Trump indicated Thursday evening in a phone interview with Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityTrump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosisJudge orders Twitter to reveal identity behind account that started Seth Rich conspiracyFox News Media signs three-book deal with HarperCollins in launch of publishing platformMORE that he wanted to hold rallies this weekend on Saturday and Sunday, but an official familiar with his plans said Friday that he was unlikely to venture out of the White House for rallies until at least Monday.
White House officials have indicated that Trump would be tested to ensure he is no longer contagious before restarting public events and travel in order to make sure that he is not infectious.
There are medical tests underway that will ensure that when the president is back out there, he will not be able to transmit the virus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in an interview on Fox & Friends Friday morning.
The decision to resume events at the White House, which has grappled with its own outbreak of COVID-19 over the past week, is likely to call attention to the degree to which the administration is adhering to public health guidelines.
Many of the individuals that have caught the virus were present at a White House Rose Garden event during which Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26. Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Pence, Harris spar over COVID-19 during policy-focused debateEric Trump claims his father ‘literally saved Christianity’Overnight Health Care: Trump works from Oval Office after COVID-19 diagnosis | GOP frustrated by Trump’s messages on aid | Eli Lilly asks for emergency authorization of antibody treatment MORE, the nations top disease expert, bluntly described it as a super-spreader event during a radio interview Friday.
Officials at that event and other occasions, including Trumps Republican National Convention speech on the South Lawn in August, eschewed public health guidelines by not wearing face coverings or practicing social distancing. Trumps campaign rallies also feature crowds of people, with limited mask usage.
I am concerned if the plan is to return to business as usual on the campaign trail. Large public events without physical distancing and wearing of masks is a recipe for disaster and transmission of the virus, said Parekh, who was also a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.