Trump Plans to Attend Second Debate Despite Virus Infection

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate last week in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(CN) — The day after returning to the White House from his coronavirus-related hospital stay, President Donald Trump said he’s “feeling great” and plans to attend the Oct. 15 presidential debate in Miami.

The status of the second presidential debate has been in limbo since Trump tested positive for Covid-19 last week and was admitted to Walter Reed hospital in Maryland. After a three-day hospital stay, Trump on Monday night returned to the White House.  

Trump’s physician Sean Conley wrote in a memo Tuesday that Trump “had a restful night at home” and was reporting no symptoms. The memo painted a picture of a swift recovery from last Friday, when, according to Conley, Trump had a high fever, fatigue and oxygen levels transiently dipping below normal.

A communications director for the Trump campaign signaled early in the week that Trump was planning on attending the Miami debate against Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The sentiment was echoed by Trump on his social media account Tuesday morning.

“FEELING GREAT!” the president posted, before adding: “I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!”

The debate is scheduled to be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of Miami.

Miami and the surrounding county Miami-Dade have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 3,300 deaths linked to the virus.

Intensive-care unit hospitalizations associated with the virus appear to be on the decline in the county. On Aug. 10, Miami-Dade reported more than 550 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units. That figure has fallen to 98 as of October 6.

According to the Adrienne Arsht Center, tickets for the debate are not available to the public, and the Commission on Presidential Debates is managing requests for access.

The commission has not responded to a request for comment on its contingency plans in the event that the debate needs to be rescheduled.

Biden told reporters Monday that if medical experts give the go-ahead for the debate, he is game.

“If the scientists say that it’s safe and the distances are safe … I think it’s fine,” Biden said.

Trump on Monday night addressed the country about his Covid-19 diagnosis.

“Don’t let it dominate you,” Trump said of the virus. “Don’t be afraid of it.”

He went on: “You’re gonna beat it. … Two days ago I could have left [Walter Reed hospital]. Two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time.”

“Now I’m better. Maybe I’m immune. I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there. Be careful,” he said in the roughly 90-second address.

Trump has received the antiviral drug remdesivir and the corticosteroid dexamethasone, as well as supplemental oxygen as treatment for the virus. He tested positive a few days after the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

Conley characterized Trump’s transport to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a precautionary measure.

Several people in Trump’s inner circle have also tested positive for the virus, including First Lady Melania Trump, campaign manager Bill Stepien and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Trump’s positive test was preceded by the diagnosis of Covid-19 in his aide Hope Hicks.  

According to a Politico report, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said that if Trump is still testing positive, it would be unsafe for the president to participate in a live debate in the city. Suarez, who suffered his own bout with Covid-19 early in the outbreak, is a registered Republican, though the mayoral office in Miami appears on ballots as nonpartisan. 

“Remember this thing is highly contagious,” Suarez said, according to the Politico report.

Trump’s social media comment equating Covid-19 to the seasonal flu was deleted by Facebook and hidden by Twitter Tuesday after the platforms deemed it to be spreading misinformation. Railing against the prospect of more government-ordered shutdowns, the comment stated that “many people every year” die from the flu, but that “we have learned to live with it.” 

Trump then asserted that Covid-19 is “far less lethal” than the flu in “most populations,” a claim that contradicts analyses by U.S. government medical agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. 

Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins Medicine, for one has written that the mortality rate of Covid-19 is estimated to be “substantially higher” than that of most flu strains. 

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