A maskless President Donald Trump told Americans they shouldn’t be afraid of the coronavirus, mocked Democratic challenger Joe Biden for being cautious on the campaign trail and continued to peddle misinformation about a disease that has killed more than 214,000 people in the US, despite his own positive diagnosis, during a Florida rally Monday.
“I feel so powerful,” Trump, speaking to a large crowd in Sanford, Florida, declared just hours after his doctor said the president had tested negative for COVID-19 and was no longer considered infectious. “I’ll walk into that audience, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys, and the beautiful women and everybody. I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.”
The declaration comes amid the president’s efforts to move past his own coronavirus infection and a dramatic outbreak of the virus within the White House. Sean Conley, the White House physician, said Monday that the president had tested negative for COVID-19 on “consecutive days” using a rapid test, although such tests have a higher chance of false negatives.
Despite those assertions, questions remain about the president’s health and how severe his coronavirus symptoms had been, and health experts have expressed doubt about the claim that Trump is no longer infectious. Guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for at least 10 days after symptoms first appear (although it notes those with severe illness, especially patients admitted to a hospital who needed oxygen, may need to isolate for up to 20 days).
Trump, who had largely mocked the use of face masks and continued to hold large political events throughout the pandemic, used his appearance Monday to attack Biden’s efforts to prevent infections during his own campaign, pointing to the former vice president’s use of social distancing circles to keep people safe.
“The other guy gets out there, and they work and work and work, and 30 people show up and they put ’em in those crazy circles,” Trump said. “They only have those circles, because that’s the only way they can fill up the room.”
At an event in Ohio, Biden criticized Trump’s efforts to stump before crowds, saying the president’s “conduct since his diagnosis has been unconscionable.”
“The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he seems to get,” Biden said.
On Monday, the president addressed that desire to get back on the campaign trail, saying that, as the country’s leader, he had to take risks and appear before his supporters.
“I don’t have to be locked up in my basement. I wouldn’t allow that to happen anyway,” the president said. “You’ve got to get out. And it’s risky, but you’ve got to get out.”
“But it does give you a good feeling when you can beat something.”
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