President Donald Trump is expected to give in-person remarks during an event today on the South Lawn of the White House, despite his coronavirus diagnosis and restrictions on mass gatherings that remain in effect for Washington, D.C.
The president’s schedule for today suggests that he will deliver “remarks at a peaceful protest for law and order” at 2 p.m., confirming the ABC News report yesterday which said Trump was expected to address attendees from a White House balcony.
If it goes ahead, it will mark the president’s first in-person event since announcing last Friday that he and the First Lady had both tested positive for COVID-19.
Trump spent three nights at Walter Reed Medical Center, returning to the White House on Monday while appearing to have labored breathing. He has since released video statements, including one which touted his treatment as a possible cure.
Under medical care, the president was reportedly administered antiviral drug remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and an unproven experimental drug from Regeneron. He said on Twitter yesterday a “big rally” was scheduled for Florida on Monday.
According to CNBC, all attendees at today’s event will be asked to wear face masks on White House grounds and will undertake a temperature check and brief questionnaire. It was not immediately clear how many people were expected to take part.
Under Phase Two of Washington, DC’s COVID-19 restrictions, which are still in effect, mass gatherings of more than 50 people in a single location are prohibited.
“If shouting or singing is involved, these activities can create droplets that may spread the virus that causes COVID-19 if you are infected. To prevent this, wear a facemask and find alternative ways to voice your message, such as through holding signs and using noise makers,” explain the guidelines from D.C.’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser.
Trump White House event Saturday described as “peaceful protest for law and order.” Wash DC Mayor’s ban on “mass gatherings” including more than 50 people still in effect, including outdoor spaces “enclosed by fence” pic.twitter.com/tr1n9N6oW7
— Eric Lipton (@EricLiptonNYT) October 10, 2020
The White House event today comes after a string of Trump administration officials who attended a previous gathering in the Rose Garden on September 26 tested positive for the disease, described as a “superspreader” event by top scientist Anthony Fauci.
On Thursday, D.C. health officials urged anyone who had worked in the White House in the past two weeks to contact local health agencies for guidance about their “potential need to quarantine,” noting there had been “limited contact tracing.”
Despite health concerns, the president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, claimed in a memo on Thursday that Trump had “completed his course of therapy for COVID-19.”
A statement attributed to the doctor in the public memo read: “Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics… I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements at that time.”
In his first on-camera interview since testing positive this week, Trump told Fox News he had not received the results from his latest test, but believed he was getting better. He said during Tucker Carlson Tonight: “I’m either at the bottom of the scale or free.”
The 2020 presidential election is now less than a month away. A spokesperson for the Biden campaign has criticized Trump’s decision to again appear in-person today.
Mike Gwin, who is the Biden team’s deputy direct response coordinator, told ABC News in a statement yesterday: “This decision is stunningly reckless and irresponsible, and it’s only the latest evidence that Trump has waved the white flag of defeat against this virus even as it kills thousands of Americans each week and batters our economy.”
Newsweek has contacted the White House and the Trump campaign for comment.
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