Trump has no Covid-19 symptoms, says physician; wants to return to Oval Office

Trump salutes from the Truman Balcony upon his return to the White House, Oct 5, 2020.
Trump salutes from the Truman Balcony upon his return to the White House, Oct 5, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump is doing "extremely well" and reporting no symptoms of Covid-19, a day after returning to the White House after being hospitalised with the highly contagious disease, his doctor said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 6).

Sean Conley, a Navy commander, said a team of physicians met with the president on Tuesday morning.

"He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms. Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97 per cent," he said in a statement released by the White House.

"Overall he continues to do extremely well."

According to people familiar with the matter, restless Trump wants to return to the Oval Office, but some of the president's aides don't want him to leave the White House residence just yet.

However, they are unsure how long he will continue to isolate himself, the people said.

He has not yet gone to the West Wing and it is not clear if he will.

Trump is also considering a televised address to the nation, another person said.

Trump and his campaign have sought to cast his return from the hospital as a triumphant presidential moment just weeks before Election Day, but he has fallen far behind his challenger Joe Biden in both public opinion polls and fund-raising.

A CNN poll taken after Trump's chaotic first debate with Biden, released on Tuesday, found the president trailing the former vice-president by 16 points nationally.

Meanwhile, more coronavirus infections emerged in the White House. One of the president's military aides, Jayna McCarron, tested positive, as did one of the president's valets, who travelled with Trump last week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The duties of Trump's five military aides - one from each service branch - include carrying the nuclear "football," the system the president would use to initiate a nuclear weapons attack. The valets also come from the ranks of the military.

Trump discussed further coronavirus economic relief on Tuesday in a conference call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, according to a person familiar with the matter.

But he later announced that he was calling off the talks until after the election, accusing Democrats of not negotiating in good faith, 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed a US$2.2 trillion (S$3 trillion) Bill through her chamber last week with only Democratic votes. The White House has proposed a US$1.6 trillion package.

On Monday, Trump issued a video on Twitter imploring Americans not to let the coronavirus "dominate" their lives, based on his personal experience receiving the best medical care available. On Tuesday morning, he again erroneously likened the virus to the seasonal flu, a disease epidemiologists consider far less dangerous.

The coronavirus has killed more than 210,000 Americans since February. Trump's consideration of a televised speech was reported earlier by The New York Times.

The top White House physician, Sean Conley, had said that Trump will continue to recuperate in isolation at the White House until he is no longer infectious, but the president has made clear he's eager to get back to his re-election campaign.

"FEELING GREAT!" Trump said on Twitter, after a post earlier in which he likened the novel coronavirus to seasonal flu - a comparison the president was criticised for making earlier in the year, before the US outbreak blossomed into the worst in the world.

"Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the flu," Trump said. "Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!"

The US has not lost 100,000 people to the flu in a single season in more than a decade, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while direct comparisons are difficult because of differences in counting deaths from the diseases, there is consensus among epidemiologists that the coronavirus is far more dangerous than common strains of flu.