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Trump, Being Treated for COVID-19, Plans to Attend Second Debate With Biden


FILE - President Donald Trump walks out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to return to the White House after receiving treatments for COVID-19 in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 5, 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump, infected with the coronavirus, declared from the White House on Tuesday that he is planning to show up for his second debate with Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden.

"I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!" the president said on Twitter.

Trump first tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday and was hospitalized for 72 hours between Friday evening and Monday. Based on that timeline, his attendance at the event, during which they are to answer questions from voters, could pose a public health risk, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which considers someone infected with the virus to be contagious 10 to 20 days from the onset of symptoms.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit group sponsoring the debates, has not yet commented on this matter.

Trump arrived back at the White House on Monday evening. His personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said in a statement Tuesday that the president had a "restful first night at home, and today, he reports no symptoms."

Monday morning on social media, Trump wrote that the coronavirus in most populations is "far less lethal" than seasonal influenza. Facebook deleted the message.

"We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19 and have now removed this post," said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman.

Twitter restricted Trump's tweet, applying a warning label that noted it violates the social media platform's guideline "about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19."

Trump urged Americans not to "be afraid" of COVID-19 after he returned to the White House.

In a show of fitness, he climbed the steps of the South Portico, standing on the Truman Balcony, where he removed his mask, gave a double thumbs-up gesture and saluted the Marine One helicopter as it prepared to take off from the South Lawn. Without putting his face mask back on, the president then walked into the White House where others were awaiting his arrival.

Earlier, as he walked out of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump said, "Thank you very much, everybody."

Stepping off the helicopter and walking toward the White House residence, the president paused and turned to the cameras, waved and gave a thumbs-up. Asked by VOA how he was feeling, a muffled reply of "real good" could be heard.

Later in the evening, he tweeted out a recorded message about COVID19, saying "Don't let it dominate you. Don't be afraid of it."

"We're going back, we're going back to work. We're going to be out front," he said. "Don't let it dominate your lives. Get out there, be careful," he added.

Trump's primary physician gave an update of his condition Monday afternoon before he was discharged from Walter Reed.

"Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations, and most importantly, his clinical status, support his return home" to the White House, which has medical facilities and practitioners to monitor the president around the clock," Conley told reporters.

"Every day a patient stays in the hospital unnecessarily is a risk to themselves," he added. "Right now, there's nothing being done upstairs here that we can't safely conduct down home."

The White House is "taking every precaution necessary" to protect not just Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who also tested positive for the coronavirus, but "every staff member working on the complex" consistent with CDC guidelines and best practices, according to Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

Deere said that physical access to Trump is being significantly limited, and appropriate protective equipment is being worn by those near him.

Several White House officials and other staff are known to be currently infected with the virus, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and presidential adviser Hope Hicks.

Speaking with reporters at the hospital prior to Trump's discharge, Conley, an osteopath and a commander in the U.S. Navy, declined to answer some questions, such as the condition of the president's lungs, citing patient confidentiality.

The president has been taking a steroid, dexamethasone, which is typically not administered in mild or moderate cases of the coronavirus, along with a five-day course of remdesivir, an antiviral medication.

Trump's campaign on Friday put a hold on all previously announced events involving the president's participation.

Vice President Mike Pence is making campaign appearances this week, as well as facing off Wednesday evening against Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

"As far as travel goes, we'll see," Conley replied when asked how soon Trump could get back on the campaign trail with less than a month before the November 3 presidential election.

Doctors said it is important to ensure that the president is no longer shedding virus and that he is in good enough physical shape before getting medical permission to travel.

Trump and Biden were about 4 meters apart on a debate stage last Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio. The CDC suggests at least 2 meters for social distancing purposes.

The coronavirus has killed 210,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 7.5 million across the country, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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