Trump delivers White House remarks in first public event since testing positive for COVID-19

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is set to deliver remarks from the White House South Lawn balcony on Saturday in his first public event since testing positive for COVID-19 more than a week ago. 

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“Black and Latino Americans are rejecting the Radical Socialist Left and they are embracing our pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-police, and PRO-AMERICAN agenda,” Trump is expected to say, according to excerpts of his speech released by the White House. 

In order to protect the lives of Black Americans and all Americans, “we must support the police,” Trump will say. 

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“If the left gains power, they will launch a nationwide crusade against law enforcement – taking away their funds, their firearms, and their fundamental authorities,” he is expected to say.

Trump is scheduled to speak before hundreds of people in an event billed as a “peaceful protest for law and order” even as the White House continues to deal with an outbreak of the coronavirus that has infected several of the president’s personal aides. 

The president said Friday he was “medication-free” in an interview with Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel, but added that he didn’t know the results of his most recent coronavirus test, which he said was administered earlier on Friday. He told Siegel he was “either at the bottom of the scale or free”” of coronavirus and said he was being tested every few days.

The White House has repeatedly declined to say when Trump last tested negative for COVID-19 prior to his positive test result last Thursday that resulted in a three-night stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

In his Fox News interview, Trump said he was hospitalized because he “didn’t feel strong” but claimed he didn’t have trouble breathing. The president’s doctors said they administered supplemental oxygen last Friday after Trump experienced a drop in blood oxygen levels.

“I didn’t have a problem with breathing, which a lot of people seemed to have. I had none of that. I didn’t feel very strong. I didn’t feel very vital. I didn’t feel like the president of the U.S. should feel.”

Trump has not been seen publicly since his release on Monday, except for his Fox interview and a series of videos released by the White House throughout the week. 

A White House memo released Thursday night announced that Trump had completed his course of therapy for COVID-19 “as prescribed by his team of physicians.” White House physician Dr. Sean Conley cleared Trump to return to public life on Saturday, 10 days since his diagnosis.

Teyana Taylor et al. standing in front of a crowd: Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at The Ellipse, before entering to The White House, where Trump will hold an event on the South lawn on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington.

© Jose Luis Magana, AP
Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at The Ellipse, before entering to The White House, where Trump will hold an event on the South lawn on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington.

The event takes place not far from a Sept. 26 ceremony to mark the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, which may have resulted in a “super spreader” event as several attendees tested positive. 

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Though the event was held outside at the Rose Garden, the majority of the 180-plus people in attendance sat close to each other for an extended period, and most didn’t wear masks. There were smaller indoor gatherings as part of the occasion.

More: Super spreader events: How do they cause COVID-19 outbreaks and is the White House now a hot spot?

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An official said precautions would be taken to maintain the safety of the crowd at Saturday’s event. All attendees must bring a mask and will be instructed to wear it on the White House complex. They also must submit to a Covid-19 screening, which will include a temperature check and a brief questionnaire.

Trump has faced criticism for using the White House for political events, but White House spokesman Judd Deere told reporters the event was “an official event.” 

“The campaign is not involved in this,” he said. 

The event kicks off Trump’s return to the campaign trail as he tries to regain momentum with a little more than three weeks until Election Day on Nov. 3. The president will hold a rally in Sanford, Florida, on Monday – his first such rally since Sept. 30  – as well as one in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on Tuesday and in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday.

The Florida rally had originally been scheduled for Oct. 2, but was canceled after Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19.

His remarks come as a New York Times investigation into the president’s tax records found that he engineered a windfall of more than $21 million during his 2016 presidential bid. The report claims that a Las Vegas hotel that he co-owns with casino mogul Phil Ruffin made payments to several companies that Trump controls that eventually flowed directly to Trump. 

Deere, the president’s spokesman, called the report “more fake news.” 

“This is yet another politically-motivated hit piece inaccurately smearing a standard business deal,” Deere said in a statement.

“During his years as a successful businessman, Donald Trump was long-time partners with Phil Ruffin and earned whatever payments he received. This is the same 2016 playbook that the American people rejected resoundingly.”

Contributing: David Jackson, John Fritze, Michael Collins

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump delivers White House remarks in first public event since testing positive for COVID-19

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