explainer

Coronavirus-infected Donald Trump held a White House event. Here's how the world reacted.

Donald Trump has not yet revealed if he has tested negative to COVID-19, despite holding an event at the White House on Saturday and addressing supporters - who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the crowd - in the president’s first public event since being released from hospital. 

President Trump took off his mask as he stood alone on the White House balcony, which he called "a peaceful protest for law & order", urging a crowd of largely Black and Latino supporters to vote for him in the November 3 presidential election.  

His speech was shorter than normal, as pointed out by the New York Times, who reported that whilst an ordinary Trump rally lasts for 90 minutes, this one went for 18 minutes - with White House officials initially saying he would speak for 30 minutes. 

Donald Trump in front of a crowd of 2,000 at the White House on Sunday. Image: Getty.

It comes as the White House is at the epicentre of a COVID-19 outbreak - after a ‘super-spreader’ event on September 26 - with at least 37 White House aides and close contacts testing positive to the deadly disease in the weeks since. 

Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s health, what he said during his first public event, and how the world is reacting.

How is Trump’s health?

Trump has repeatedly said he feels “great”, with Saturday marking his 10th day since the diagnosis. 

On Saturday night, hours after the event, Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, said in a statement that the president was no longer a “transmission risk to others” and added he was “fever-free for well over 24 hours”. However, he did not reveal if he had tested negative for COVID-19.  

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on their website that those who contract COVID-19 with mild or moderate symptoms are infectious for up to 10 days. For those with severe to critical illness, the infectious period could remain for up to 20 days. Whilst the public has received confusing and conflicting messages about Trump’s condition since his diagnosis, we do know he was on Dexamethasone, which is only for “severe and critical COVID-19” cases, according to the World Health Organisation. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Guests at Saturday's event were asked to wear masks and filled out questionnaires, however photos clearly show that social distancing guidelines were not adhered to.

Watch: Donald Trump's interview with Australian journalist Jonathan Swan. Post continues below. 


Video via HBO.

What did Trump say during the event?

Donald Trump directed unsubstantiated allegations against his opponent Joe Biden and described himself as a champion for the black community in America.  

"The fact is that I’ve done more for the black community than any president since Abraham Lincoln. I say it. Nobody can dispute it," Trump said, prompting many people to dispute such claim on social media. 

He continued: “You understand that to protect the lives of Black Americans, and all Americans, we must support our police. Democrats have run nearly every inner city in America, and I mean for 100 years, and their policies have delivered nothing but calamity, poverty, and trouble. Sleepy Joe Biden’s betrayed Black and Latino Americans.”

Trump tried to instill fear in voters by saying: "We cannot allow our country to become a socialist nation. We cannot let that happen. That’s what would happen. Or worse." (Democratic nominee Joe Biden, known as a 'moderate', has repeatedly told Americans he is "not a socialist".)

On the virus, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans, Trump said "it's going to disappear; it is disappearing". 

“In that hospital I was watching down over so many people, and I went out to say hello to those people and I took a little heat for it, but I’d do it again, let me tell you,” he said, referencing his controversial hospital ride last week, where he was criticised for potentially risking the lives of Secret Service whilst he was still infectious.

Donald Trump removes his mask upon returning to the White House last Monday. Image: Getty. 

ADVERTISEMENT

How did the world respond?

As ever, Trump's words and actions were polarising. 

On CNN, Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said: "The images we are seeing are absolutely extraordinary. To literally draw [Black and Latino activists] into the White House, to a hot zone, is extraordinarily inept in terms of public policy and public health."

He continued: "If you believe nuclear power is safe, you don’t go and have a picnic at Chernobyl the next day to prove that point."

This sentiment was echoed by other medical experts online. 

On the other hand, a Fox News anchor said Donald Trump "most importantly" looked "fine". 

Host Eric Shawn said: “Look, most importantly he looks fine. He sounded good. He seemed in good spirits and good humour. And he didn’t cough. Does that image of looking like his normal self go a long way in this campaign?”

ADVERTISEMENT

Former deputy assistant to George W. Bush Brad Blakeman responded: "You bet it does. And it also shows that the president is leading by example… To think that we’re going to shut down our country. Shut down our lives. The president is right. The cure is worse than the disease. If we allow ourselves not to be able to live life."

Ultimately, though, the president was subject to widespread criticism online for holding the event. 

Among his critics was high-profile British media commentator Piers Morgan. 

Feature images: Getty. 


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.



00:00 / ???