President Trump, who is still receiving treatment for COVID-19, tweeted Tuesday morning that he is “feeling great” and plans to move forward with the second presidential debate slated for Oct. 15 in Miami.
I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
His pronouncement comes less than one day after he left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he spent almost 72 hours receiving treatment for COVID-19.
His physician, Dr. Sean Conley, told reporters on Monday that although he is cautiously optimistic about the president’s prognosis, medical staff will remain on guard for another week.
Conley also said, “We’ll see,” when asked about any potential campaign travel for the president. The next debate is in 9 days, casting uncertainty on what is possible for the president to do both in terms of his own recovery as well as concerns over exposure.
Trump, who reportedly views illness a a sign of weakness, has tried to project an image of strength in the midst of a White House in chaos as increasing numbers of staff test positive for the virus and the president’s medical team and staff send mixed messages on his symptoms and treatment.
Upon his return to the White House Monday evening, Trump walked up the staircase to the South Portico entrance, turned to face the cameras, removed his mask and gave two thumbs up.
White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah told Fox News the president’s appearance on the White House balcony was meant to communicate confidence to the American people.
I noted that in moments of uncertainty it’s important for the President to project CONFIDENCE & STRENGTH – not just to the America people but to our allies & adversaries alike.
America is STRONG! https://t.co/b9nlkuVdU4
— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) October 6, 2020
Over the weekend, it seemed possible that Trump would take on a different tone when talking about the severity of COVID-19 now that he is a patient battling the disease.
“I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn’t the, ‘let’s read the book’ school,” he said in a video on Sunday. (It’s worth noting that Trump has been briefed extensively about the pandemic by members of his White House coronavirus task force and other advisers.)
But by the time he was discharged from Walter Reed, any possibility of changing his rhetoric to push back against criticism that he doesn’t take it seriously was undermined by the president himself.
He quickly uploaded a video to Twitter upon arriving home, in which he told Americans not to be afraid of the coronavirus and to “get out there.”
He doubled down on that message with a tweet: “Don’t be afraid of COVID.” It sparked outrage as people reacted with their own experience of losing loved ones to the disease, which has sickened millions and killed more than 210,000 Americans.