U.S. President Donald Trump took part in his first public appearance on Saturday after returning to the White House after being hospitalized for a coronavirus, defying public health guidelines to talk to hundreds despite the White House refusing to declare itself contagious.
Trump took off his masked moments after emerging on a White House balcony aimed at an audience on the lower lawn, his first step onto the open stage with just over three weeks to go until election day. Five days after Trump returned from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, his health remained a mystery as White House officials refused to disclose whether he had undergone negative tests or was at risk of spreading the virus.
He was brief to return.
With bandages appearing on his hands from an intravenous injection, Trump spoke for 18 minutes, much shorter than his usual hour-plus rallies. Although he was a little tough during the speech, he looked healthy – he wanted to send a message that he was ready to resume his battle for re-election on November 3.
Despite being billed as an official event, Trump made no policy proposals and instead offered his usual attacks on Democratic rival Joe Biden, while praising law enforcement for several hundred people, many of whom wore masks, while some adhered to social distance guidelines.
“I feel great,” Trump said, thanking them for their greetings and prayers when he recovered. He declares that the pandemic that killed 210,000 Americans is “disappearing” – he is still recovering from the virus.
Trump commented that many countries, including Canada, are watching the Kovid-19 surge.
“You saw big fires in Europe, big fires in Canada, very big fires in Canada, you saw today,” he said.
Most provinces in Canada Spikes, The two largest – Ontario and Quebec, home to about 23 million people – reported more than 1,900 cases on Saturday combined.
In comparison, Missouri – a U.S. state with a population of approximately 6.1 million – reported more than 5,000 new cases on Saturday, doubling the previous daily record.
See | Trump says Canada is watching the ‘flame’ of COVID-19:
In an act of contempt or an act of seduction, the authorities set up the crowd a short distance from Rose Garden, exactly two weeks ago when President Judge Amy Connie Barrett held another large meeting to officially announce the nomination to the Supreme Court. That event is now a possible COVID-19 “super-spreader” because more than two dozen people in attendance were infected with the virus.
Trump is set to hold campaign rallies this weekend but has settled for the White House event. Although his health is unclear, he plans to speed up his journey with a rally in Florida on Monday, followed by trips to Pennsylvania and Iowa in the following days. It is unclear whether Trump himself is at risk for those traveling in Air Force One or encountering him at rally sites.
Prior to the speech, White House officials said they had no information to release on whether the president had been tested for COVID-19, meaning he would make his first public appearance without White House confirmation that he was no longer infected.
Security was tightened around the White House ahead of the event, known as the “Peaceful Protest for Peace”. Police and the Secret Service closed the surrounding streets to vehicles and closed a park called Lafayette Square near the White House, which has long been a meeting place for public protests.
More rallies are planned
As questions about his health linger – and while Democratic rival Biden is busy with his own campaign – Trump is also planning to leave the Washington area for the first time since he was hospitalized for a campaign rally in Sanford, Fla. Three weeks and is expected to make up for lost time with millions already voting.
The Biden campaign said it tested negative for COVID-19 on Saturday. Biden is likely to be exposed to the coronavirus during his September 29 talks with Trump, who announced his positive confirmation 48 hours after the debate.
The president has not appeared in public – except in videos produced by the White House – since he returned Monday from a military hospital, where he has received experimental treatments for coronavirus.
On Saturday, all attendees were required to bring masks or provided with them and given them temperature checks and asked to fill out a brief questionnaire. Some in the crowd removed their masks to listen to Trump.
Trump described Monday as the “Big Rally” in Sanford, Fla., Which was actually scheduled for October 2, the day after he tested positive. Ahead of his Saturday event, Trump used Twitter to share news articles about issues with mail-in ballots in New Jersey, Ohio and Texas. Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that universal mail-in voting surrounds widespread fraud.
Trump has returned to public action after Dr Anthony Fauzi, the government’s top epidemiologist, warned the White House that people should not hold large-scale rallies without masks.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barrett said of the event, “I was not surprised by the super-spreader event, given the circumstances.” That means “congestion, compound setting, no wearing masks. Spreading is not surprising,” he said.
In the Columbia district where the White House is located, virus restrictions have banned public meetings of more than 50 people, although that rule has not been strictly enforced. Masks are mandatory outside for most people, but regulations on federal land do not apply, and the Trump White House has publicly repelled them for months.