Trump remains out of sight as doctor says he is symptom-free
White House aides said Donald Trump had returned to the Oval Office.
Donald Trump has remained out of sight for a second day as he recovers from Covid-19 but returned to the Oval Office and made his presence known on social media as he tweeted broadsides against Democrats and floated false disease figures.
It was Mr Trump’s first visit to the Oval Office since being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on Monday.
He was briefed on Hurricane Delta, which is bearing down on the US Gulf Coast, and on economic stimulus prospects.
His doctor reported on Wednesday that the president continued to make progress in his recovery.
Dr Sean Conley, the White House physician, reported that Mr Trump had declared: “I feel great!”
Dr Conley added in a memo that Mr Trump had been symptom-free for over 24 hours, and that his oxygen saturation level and respiratory rate were normal.
The memo also said that antibodies against the coronavirus were detected in blood drawn from Mr Trump on Monday, suggesting he may be fighting off the infection.
The Friday before, he had been given an experimental treatment that contained manufactured antibodies.
It is unclear what the detection of antibodies means about the course of his illness. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says individuals can discontinue isolation 10 days after symptom onset.
Aides were instructed to take extensive precautions to prevent themselves from catching the coronavirus from the president. And while aides say he is working, White House officials have offered scant details of what he is up to.
It is unclear if Mr Trump, since returning to the White House, has been able to receive the daily summary and analysis of national security issues produced for the president and key Cabinet members and advisers.
White House officials did not answer questions about whether he has been briefed on Hurricane Delta approaching the US Gulf Coast.
Amidst the national public health crisis, a personal one, and warning flares from leading economists that the virus-scarred economy badly needs stimulus, Mr Trump pushed out more than four dozen tweets by midday praising supporters and attacking his opponents.
As Mr Trump convalesced, he again publicly played down the virus on Twitter after his return from a three-day stay in hospital, though even more aides tested positive, including one of his closest advisers, Stephen Miller.
All told more than a dozen White House staffers have tested positive.
In one significant national coronavirus action, Mr Trump declared there would be no action before the election on economic-stimulus legislation — an announcement that came not long after the Federal Reserve chairman said such help was essential for recovery with the nation reeling from the human and economic cost of the pandemic.
Stocks fell on the White House news.
He later tweeted his support for a range of stimulus proposals that appear to be a political non-starter before election day.
As for Mr Trump’s own recovery, his doctor, Navy Commander Sean Conley, said in a brief Tuesday letter that the president had a “restful” Monday night at the White House and “reports no symptoms”.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump was grappling with the next political steps exactly four weeks from election day.
Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he was planning to attend next week’s debate with Democrat Joe Biden in Miami and “It will be great!”
Mr Biden, for his part, said he and Mr Trump “shouldn’t have a debate” as long as the president remains Covid-19 positive.
Mr Biden told reporters in Pennsylvania that he was “looking forward to being able to debate him” but said “we’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines”.
Elsewhere in the government, the scope of the outbreak was still being uncovered.
On Tuesday, the nation’s top military leaders including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and the vice chairman, General John Hyten, were in quarantine after exposure to Admiral Charles W Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard.
It was not known how Adm Ray contracted the virus, but he attended an event for military families at the White House on September 27. The Coast Guard said in a statement that Adm Ray felt mild symptoms over the weekend and was tested on Monday.
Mr Trump was working out of makeshift office space on the ground floor of the White House residence, in close proximity to the White House Medical Unit’s office suite, with only a few aides granted a face-to-face audience.