In the wake of his recent hospitalization, Donald Trump spent much of last week relying on social media and conservative-media appearances to get his message out. On Saturday, however, the president hosted his first public event since his coronavirus diagnosis. Trump spoke from a White House balcony to a modest crowd that made no effort to socially distance.
And while the brevity of the event was itself notable -- the president spoke for only 18 minutes, after reporters were told he'd appear for 30 minutes -- it was the Republican's message that was especially jarring.
"It is disappearing," Trump said of the coronavirus, downplaying his own experience with the virus even though he was given oxygen and a steroid treatment, and making no mention of the more than 210,000 Americans that have died.
His timing could've been better. The number of new coronavirus cases in the United States has steadily grown over the last month, and the daily total topped 50,000 new cases three times last week. The daily average has now climbed to its highest point since August, as Americans see their third upswing in coronavirus infections since the crisis began earlier this year.
Or put another way, there is no sane way to look at the U.S. landscape and see a viral threat that's "disappearing" -- and yet, there was the president, pushing the message anyway.
For months, Trump, based on little more than his own hopes, has assured Americans the crisis "is going to disappear." Evidently, he's grown tired of waiting for this to happen and decided to declare that disappearance is already underway.
As the weekend progressed, the president declared himself "immune" -- he went so far as to boast that he has a "protective glow" of immunity, despite unanswered questions about the threat of reinfections -- and began scheduling a series of campaign events, including a rally in Florida today. This comes against a backdrop in which the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday that "nine positive Covid-19 cases were associated with a Trump campaign rally in Bemidji last month, sending one person into intensive care. The health department is monitoring for potential cases from a rally in Duluth held nearly two weeks later."
Meanwhile, there's still a great deal about the president's condition that the public does not know. Has Trump recently tested negative? The White House won't say. When was Trump's last negative test before contracting the virus? The White House won't say that, either. What medications is the president taking? Trump has given a variety of answers, some of which are contradictory.
How will the recently hospitalized president travel the country in a way that's safe for those around him? If the White House has a good answer, it's been kept well hidden.
An NBC News report added, "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with a moderate or severe case of the coronavirus can remain infectious for up to 20 days or longer after testing positive and should isolate themselves during that time." By all accounts, Trump remains in the middle of that window, but he's nevertheless ignoring the CDC guidelines and hitting the campaign trail.