President Donald Trump gave an update on his health Saturday in a speech from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, saying he feels “much better now,” and thanking the public for an “outpouring of love.”
The video was the first significant message from Trump since he announced on Twitter early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19. But it failed to address the controversy that erupted in the wake of his illness.
Trump was transported to the hospital Friday with symptoms including a fever, congestion and a cough.
“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well,” Trump said from behind a desk at the hospital. “I feel much better now. We’re working hard to get me all the way back.”
He added, “I think I’ll be back soon. I look forward to finishing up the campaign.”
Trump’s announcement that he had contracted COVID-19 almost immediately triggered criticism over conflicting reports of exactly how sick he quickly became, the actual timeline of when he was diagnosed with COVID, and how many people he may have placed in seriously jeopardy of COVID-19 contagion as the president continued his campaign events.
Trump has long been chastised for brazenly defying safety precautions to stem the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, avoiding crowds and maintaining social distance. He has also been identified as the “largest driver” of COVID misinformation and conspiracy theories.
In the most troubling development Saturday, White House physician Sean Conley referred to Trump as being “just 72 hours into the diagnosis now,” which would indicate the president was diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday. That would mean Trump knew he had COVID and a risk of spreading it the day before he attended a fundraising event at his Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey. Trump did not wear a mask at the event. The White House contradicted Conley, and the physician later issued a statement that he had misspoken.
Trump addressed none of those issues in his four-minute speech from the hospital. Instead, he focused on his optimism on fighting the disease, the “therapeutics … coming down from God,” and support from Americans.
Trump called his illness “something that happened, and it’s happened to millions of people all over the world. And I’m fighting for them. … We’re going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it, and we’re going to beat it soundly.”
He praised the “therapeutics” being developed to fight COVID, including those he’s taking, as “miracles coming down from God.”
But he conceded he’s not out of the woods. “Over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next few days,” Trump said.
The president said he was “so thankful for all the support I’ve seen … almost a bipartisan consensus of American people. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and I very much appreciate it, and I won’t forget it.”
Trump also thanked world leaders for their “condolences.”
The president said he “had no choice” about coming to the hospital, and that he “just didn’t want to stay in the White House.” Sources say he did want to stay, however.
“I think we’re going to have a very good result,” he concluded. “The outpouring of love has been incredible.”
Several people in Trump’s orbit have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last few days. Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, top aide Hope Hicks, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, Republican National Convention Chair Ronna McDaniel, and three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — have all tested positive.
The growing list of infected people connected to the White House may be linked to an event last Saturday at the Rose Garden announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Few people wore face masks, they sat side by side, and many shook hands and hugged.
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