Trump to speak at in-person event from White House balcony

President Donald Trump, itching to get back on the election campaign trail after being sidelined by a COVID-19 infection, will begin by delivering remarks to supporters at the White House at an outdoor event on Saturday.

A White House official said Trump will address the crowd from a balcony on a “law and order” theme. A source familiar with the situation said the crowd could be in the hundreds, and all were expected to wear masks.

Questions remain about whether Trump, who announced on Oct. 2 he had the virus and spent three nights in a military hospital, is still contagious. Trump told Fox News he was likely to be tested for the virus on Friday.

30 PHOTOS2020 presidential debateSee Gallery2020 presidential debatePresident Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News speaks as President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Pool vi AP)President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, center, gesturing during the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, right, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)US President Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden take part in the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29:U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29:Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first presidential debate against U.S. President Donald Trump at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29:Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first presidential debate against U.S. President Donald Trump at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3.(Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29:U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)Debate moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace directs the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / POOL / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on stage at the end of the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29:First lady Melania Trump stands with President Donald Trump as he looks at Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden as he is hugged by his wife Jill Biden during the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3.(Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, lean in to talk to moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News at the conclusion of the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)President Donald Trump walks away form the podium at the conclusion of the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)From l-r, first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, walk off stage at the conclusion of the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, enter, walks in from l-r., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Lara Trump and Tiffany Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, fo the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows waits in his seat for the start of the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Guests wear face covering as the wait for the start of the first presidential debate, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaking during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Pool vi AP)President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Pool vi AP)A face mask and debate program are left on the floor following the conclusion of the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)Up Next

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The illness has kept the Republican president from holding public rallies and attending fundraisers at a critical juncture of the campaign. He trails Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls with just weeks to go before the Nov. 3 election.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the president was hard at work and ready to go as soon as he got approval from his doctor, telling Fox News, “He wants to talk to the American people, and he wants to be out there.”

Trump and his administration have faced criticism for their broad handling of the pandemic, as well as for a lax approach to mask-wearing and social distancing in the White House and – in recent days – confusing messages about how ill the president has been.

With Trump’s management of the pandemic dominating the campaign, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Americans steadily losing confidence in how he has managed the health crisis – with his net approval on the issue hitting a new low.

White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo released on Thursday that Trump had completed his course of therapy for COVID-19, remained stable since returning home from the Walter Reed medical facility on Monday and could resume public engagements on Saturday.

“There are medical tests underway that will ensure that when the president is back out he will not be able to transmit the virus,” McEnany said, adding Conley would lay out the details later. “He won’t be out there if he can transmit the virus.”

McEnany is one of a string of Trump aides, including his campaign manager, who have tested positive in an outbreak of the virus in the last week within the White House and Trump campaign.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, told MSNBC on Thursday that guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a patient is considered infectious for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or until two negative molecular diagnostic tests 24 hours apart.

The White House has declined to say when Trump last tested negative for the disease.

ON-AIR EVALUATION

Trump was scheduled to do an on-camera interview with Fox News on Friday night, his first since being diagnosed. Fittingly, given Trump is a former reality television star, Fox said in a press release that Dr. Marc Siegel “will conduct a medical evaluation and interview during the program.”

Biden has continued to campaign during Trump’s illness, with events scheduled on Friday in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Biden, a former vice president who has sharply criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic, is leading in national polls but the advantage is narrower in some of the swing states that may determine the election outcome.

On Friday afternoon, Trump told conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh he was working to get coronavirus antibody drugs developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc <REGN.O> and Eli Lilly and Co <LLY.N> approved quickly and out to hospitals after his own experience.

He might not have recovered without those treatments to fight his illness, he said, adding his doctors at one point told him: “You could have been very bad. You were going into a very bad phase.”

The Trump and Biden campaigns sparred on Thursday over a televised debate that had been planned for next week. Trump pulled out of the scheduled Oct. 15 event after the nonpartisan debate commission said it would be held virtually, with the candidates in separate locations, because of safety concerns after Trump contracted COVID-19.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Frances Kerry and Cynthia Osterman)

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