Oct. 10 (UPI) — President Donald Trump, still recovering from a bout with COVID-19, plans to take part — in person — at events at the White House and in Florida this weekend, administration officials said Friday.
He’s expected to host hundreds of guests on the South Lawn on Saturday afternoon for a speech he’ll give from the balcony of the building. White House aides told The Washington Post attendees will be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing, but will not be forced to comply.
ABC News obtained an invitation to the event, which described it as “remarks to peaceful protesters for law and order.”
The event is being held in conjunction with another Washington, D.C., event in support of Trump organizations by conservative activist Candace Owens and her group Blexit, which encourages Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party.
Trump says he wants to hold a pair of campaign rallies this weekend — while refusing to confirm whether he’s tested negative since his diagnosis a week ago.
Trump will also speak at a campaign rally in Sanford, Fla., on Monday. The event will take place inside an airport hangar.
In an interview Thursday with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump said he wanted to resume public events and floated the possibility of holding rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania.
“I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we can, if we have enough time to put it together,” Trump said. “But we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night, might come back and do one in Pennsylvania on the following night.”
Florida and Pennsylvania are considered two primary battleground states for the Nov. 3 election and have been visited multiple times by both campaigns in recent weeks and months.
Trump was hospitalized a week ago after announcing he’d tested positive for the virus, and he returned to the White House three days later. While under doctors’ care, he has received the antiviral drug remdesivir and an experimental antibody cocktail from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Thursday the president would be able to return to public engagements by Saturday.
Asked if he has tested negative, Trump refused to answer directly.
“Well, what we’re doing is, probably the test will be tomorrow,” he said. “The actual test, because there’s no reason to test all the time.”
A White House spokeswoman on Thursday also refused to disclose when Trump last tested negative for COVID-19, telling reporters that “the doctors would like to keep it private.”
Administration officials have consistently refused to disclose the date of Trump’s last negative test — information that could be used to determine where and when he may have picked up the coronavirus and who may have been exposed afterwards.
A number of campaign and White House officials have tested positive over the past week, including Trump and first lady Melania Trump, press officer Kayleigh McEnany, three of her deputies, adviser Stephen Miller, Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel, aide Hope Hicks and former adviser Kellyanne Conway.
On Thursday, Trump refused to participate in the next presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the two would have to appear remotely, due to Trump’s diagnosis and the ongoing threat of COVID-19.
Trump said it’s a “waste of time,” “ridiculous” and said he didn’t think he was contagious.
Biden, other Democrats, some Republicans and medical officials have repeatedly criticized Trump and his administration for downplaying the threat of the pandemic, and say Trump’s refusal to debate and plans for new rallies when there’s substantial doubt that he’s free of the disease are yet more clear examples of how he’s negligently handling the crisis.
Biden has called for the final debate, scheduled for Oct. 22, to be a town hall event — in which the candidates are questioned by voters — so that Trump can’t escape accountability to the American people.
On Thursday, ABC News announced it will hold a town hall with Biden alone on what would have been the date of the second debate, Oct. 15. The network said news anchor George Stephanopoulos will moderate the prime-time event in Philadelphia.