President Trump hailed on Monday the medical care received in his first rally since testing positive for the coronavirus, vowing to a crowd in Sanford, Florida that he would ensure the whole country enjoyed the type of treatment afforded to him.
“We’ve made tremendous progress, if you look at what we’re doing with therapeutics … And I said to my people, we are going to take whatever the hell they gave me and we’re going to distribute it around to hospitals and everyone’s going to have the same damn thing,” he said.
Trump had started a course of Remdesivir, having previously received an antibody cocktail, and taking zinc, Vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin.
Monday’s rally came just a week after President Trump was released from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he spent three days following his positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, said earlier on Monday that the president had tested negative for the virus “on consecutive days.” Conley said that the findings, along with other data, led his team to conclude that Trump wasn’t infectious to others. The note fron Conley indicated Trump had tested negative using the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen test, which as multiple physicians noted, is 2,000 times less sensitive than a PCR test (per Abbott’s data) and may not be the best choice for Trump’s situation.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top coronavirus adviser to the White House, told CNN that the president was “asking for trouble” by holding rallies.
During his speech, the president added that he felt “so powerful” after recovering from the virus. “I’ll walk into that audience,” he said, pointing towards the crowd. “I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women—everybody.”
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Trump has come under fire for the way he reacted to the virus, including when he took off his face mask after returning from the hospital to the White House.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to appear in southern Florida on Tuesday, accused Trump of “reckless behavior.”
“President Trump comes to Sanford today bringing nothing but reckless behavior, divisive rhetoric, and fear mongering,” Biden said in a statement before the event. “But, equally dangerous is what he fails to bring: no plan to get this virus that has taken the lives of over 15,000 Floridians under control.”
But on Monday evening, Trump painted himself as a moderate alternative to Democrats’ “radical” agenda.
“We want to get back to normal life,” he said.
He also argued that “Biden would terminate our recovery, delay the vaccine, prolong the pandemic, and annihilate Florida’s economy with a draconian, unscientific lockdown — that’s what he wants to do, lock it down,” he said. Biden previously told ABC News he would be open to additional economic shutdowns if scientists advised doing that.
The World Health Organization (WHO), Trump said, vindicated his opposition to lockdowns when it warned about their impacts.
“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it,” said Dr. David Nabarro, the WHO’s Special Envoy on COVID-19, on Monday.
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Florida is widely seen as a key battleground state and could be pivotal in deciding who wins November’s election. For Trump, the Sanford rally is the first stop in a busy week that will include events in Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Polling averages have shown Biden leading the president, although Trump narrowly won the Sunshine state in 2016 with a lead of just over 112,000 votes.
A poll released last week showed him leading Biden — 50% to 47% — among voters 65 years and older in the state, but down in the overall vote. Trump vowed on Monday to protect Social Security and Medicare, claiming that Democrats’ immigration policies would decimate those entitlement programs.
“We have to take care of our people first,” he said.
Trump and others have pointed to his large crowd sizes as an indication of the enthusiasm he enjoys before the election. According to WESH 2, his supporters started lining up for the event Sunday night. Footage from outside the rally also showed a long line of supporters waiting hours beforehand to enter.
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Prior to the event, Trump faced backlash from Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat who is running for state Senate and who recently recovered from his own COVID-19 infection.
“It’s reckless and irresponsible,” he said of Trump’s decision to come to Florida.
Since the pandemic’s beginning, more than 7.8 million Americans have been infected and at least 214,000 have died from COVID-19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.