WASHINGTON – Looking to shove his campaign back on track, President Donald Trump and his team laid out an aggressive return to political activities, including a big White House event on Saturday and a rally in Florida on Monday, a week after his hospitalization for a virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.
As questions linger about his health — and Democratic opponent Joe Biden steps up his own campaigning — Trump planned to leave the Washington area for the first time since he was hospitalized. He is also increasing his radio and TV appearances with conservative interviewers, hoping to make up for lost time with just over three weeks until Election Day and millions already voting.
The president has not been seen in public — other than in White House-produced videos — since his return days ago from the military hospital where he received experimental treatments for the coronavirus.
Two weeks after his Rose Garden event that has been labeled a “superspreader” for the virus, Trump is planning to convene another large crowd outside the White House on Saturday for what his administration calls “a peaceful protest for law & order.” More than two dozen people linked to the White House have contracted COVID-19 since the president's Sept. 26 event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court.
Trump will address the Saturday group, expected to be at least several hundred supporters, from the White House balcony. All attendees are required to bring masks or will be provided with them, and also will be given temperature checks and asked to fill out a brief questionnaire. Attendees will be strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidelines, which include mask-wearing and social distancing.
Trump's Monday rally in Sanford, Florida, was originally scheduled to be held on Oct. 2, the day after he tested positive.
Announcement of the new event came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, cautioned the White House again to avoid large-scale gatherings of people without masks.
He said of the Barrett event in an interview with The Associated Press, “I was not surprised to see a superspreader event given the circumstances." That means “crowded, congregate setting, not wearing masks. It is not surprising to see an outbreak," he said.