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Few things are more important to President Donald Trump’s image than appearing to be strong.
That image was punctured last week when Trump, 74, tested positive for the coronavirus after months of refusing to take COVID-19 seriously.
The severity of Trump’s condition is not clear, although he has received treatment that medical experts believe may indicate a more severe case than the administration has portrayed.
Trump’s medical team has given scant details on what the president has undergone, often offering contradictory information. On Monday, Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, refused to tell reporters when Trump received his last negative coronavirus result.
“Everyone wants that,” he said with a laugh.
Conley has also admitted to withholding information about Trump’s condition to reflect an “upbeat attitude” that wouldn’t upset the president.
Still infected and contagious, Trump announced Monday that he was nevertheless leaving Walter Reed medical center to go back to the White House.
Conley declined to say at his press conference Monday when Trump would stop being contagious, acknowledging that “there’s a chance” he could continue to infect others for more than 10 days after first contracting the virus.
Trump is reportedly just five days into the illness.
Yet the president’s supporters hailed him as a strong, conquering hero Monday for overcoming the virus ― even though he’s not yet in the clear.
Senator Kelly Loeffler, who is in a tough race to hold on to the seat, put up a tweet showing Trump taking down the coronavirus in a wrestling move.
Matt Gaetz tweeted a variation of the Chuck Norris meme, suggesting that if Trump wins his fight with the coronavirus, it will be because he’s tough as nails ― not because he received top-flight medical care unavailable to just about everyone else in the country.
“He is battling it as toughly as only President Trump can,” added Trump campaign spokesperson Erin Perrine on Fox News on Monday. She added that the fact that Trump has had coronavirus is a plus in his battle against Democratic rival Joe Biden in the presidential election.
“He has experience now fighting the coronavirus as an individual. Those firsthand experiences, Joe Biden, he doesn’t have those,” Perrine said, without noting that Trump has refused to abide by public health recommendations to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.
If Trump comes out clean on the other side of his battle with coronavirus, it won’t just be because he’s “tough.” He has at least 13 doctors attending to him. He was able to take a helicopter to a top-notch hospital for care. He’s receiving an experimental antibody treatment that fewer than 10 other people have received outside of a clinical trial.
And he is not personally paying for any of it.