President Trump announced on Thursday that he had hoped to return to the campaign trail on Saturday, nine days after he tested positive for the coronavirus, a timeline that alarmed medical experts who say the president should remain isolated longer.
Mr. Trump, trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in polls just a month before the election, has been eager to get back to campaigning. When the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Thursday that next week’s debate between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden would be held remotely because of health concerns, the president secured a note from his physician, Dr. Sean Conley, saying that he would be healthy enough to “return to public engagements.”
Not long after, Mr. Trump promptly announced he would try to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday.
Dr. Conley’s statement cited Saturday as “day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis,” which is a truncated timeline compared to Dr. Conley’s earlier assessments that Mr. Trump might be at risk through Saturday and Sunday. “We’re looking to this weekend,” he said at a news conference on Monday. “If we can get through to Monday, with him remaining the same — or improving, better yet — then we will all take that final deep sigh of relief.”
Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people with mild to moderate cases of Covid-19 most likely “remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset.”
But experts said that resuming public duties might worsen the president’s condition, which could still rapidly deteriorate in the next several days. Covid-19, an unpredictable disease, can suddenly and unexpectedly deteriorate during a patient’s second week of illness.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said Dr. Conley “assured” her that, “medical tests underway that will ensure that when the president’s back out there, he will not be able to transmit the virus,” Ms. McEnany said Friday during an interview on Fox News.TRUMP AND THE VIRUSRead more about President Trump’s plans to return to the campaign trail.
“Rest assured we will make sure that he’s in a good spot before he’s out there,” said Ms. McEnany, who has also tested positive for the virus but has not experienced symptoms.
The president has dismissed the severity of the virus, saying, “when you catch it, you get better,” ignoring the more than 212,000 people in the United States who did not get better and died from it.
The president has not been seen in person since returning to the White House on Monday, but he sought to reassert himself on the public stage with a pair of telephone interviews with Fox News and Fox Business as well as a video and a series of Twitter messages. He is scheduled for his first on-camera interview on Friday evening on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” when a Fox News contributor, Dr. Marc Siegel, “will conduct a medical evaluation and interview.” In the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Siegel likened the virus to the flu, a disproved theory that Mr. Trump still promotes.