WASHINGTON – By many accounts, President Donald Trump is itching to get back on the road and rally in front of crowds in the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election. Instead, it looks like the crowd will come to him for now.
The New York Times reports that President Trump will welcome supporters to the South Lawn at the White House on Saturday, where he will address them from a balcony.
“The president was expected to make remarks from one of the balconies at the White House to the crowd, which was expected to include people attending an event elsewhere in Washington staged by a Trump supporter, Candace Owens,” The Times reported, citing unnamed people connected to the event.
The paper reports that “hundreds” are expected to attend.
In the past, campaign events at the White House were considered taboo, but Mr. Trump shattered that notion when he used the structure as the backdrop for his Republican National Convention acceptance speech in August.
Now the administration is attempting to turn the page from the last major event held there two weeks ago, the nomination announcement of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. At least eight attendees, including the president himself, have tested positive for coronavirus following that event.
The news comes as White House officials continue to dodge questions about when the president’s last negative coronavirus test was recorded.
The answer could help fill in vital details about the course of the president’s illness as well as when he may have been contagious and whom else he may have exposed. And the White House refusal to answer makes it hard not to wonder what they’re hiding, given other details they’ve shared.
“At this point it’s just so strange that they’re unwilling to give us the information,” said Michael Joseph Mina, a physician and professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s school of public health. “It makes people start thinking things like, ‘Was the president the super-spreader?’… If there was no nefarious activity going on, then they should have no problem answering this question.”
The information is also key to tracking who else may have been exposed to the virus so their contacts can be traced to prevent new clusters of infection.
“Then you can get an idea, potentially, of when he was infected, how long his incubation period was, and also then evaluate who may have been exposed to him over that time frame,” said Benjamin Pinsky, medical director of the clinical virology laboratory at Stanford Health Care. While there is considerable variability between cases, he said, Trump was most likely infectious several days before he tested positive — a period during which he traveled and had close contact with dozens of people.
Senior White House staff and those who are in direct contact with the president are tested for the virus daily. The White House originally gave the impression that Trump, too, was tested every day, with McEnany claiming in July that Trump was “the most tested man in America” and tested “multiple times a day.” But Trump contradicted her, saying, “I do probably on average a test every two days, three days.”
The current White House line is that Trump is tested “regularly.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.