Trump campaign events to be virtual or postponed after president tests positive for Covid-19


A worker is seen at Orlando Sanford International Airport, the site of a Make American Great Again campaign rally that was cancelled after U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, on October 2, 2020 in Sanford, Florida.

Paul Hennessy | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The Trump campaign said Friday that it will either postpone or hold virtually all events on its schedule involving President Donald Trump following his Covid-19 diagnosis.

The announcement comes hours after Trump revealed in a tweet that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19 and would immediately begin a quarantine and recovery process.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that the president is experiencing “mild symptoms” but is “feeling good.”

Despite the pandemic, Trump had been engaged in a busy travel schedule filled with in-person events as he fights for reelection, with less than five weeks left to campaign.

But Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement Friday afternoon: “All previously announced campaign events involving the President’s participation are in the process of being moved to virtual events or are being temporarily postponed.”

Stepien added that previously scheduled events involving members of Trump’s family “are also being temporarily postponed.”

“All other campaign events will be considered on a case-by-case basis and we will make any relevant announcements in the days ahead,” Stepien said.

The campaign chief noted that Vice President Mike Pence, who tested negative for Covid-19 on Friday morning, will continue to campaign in accordance with his schedule.

Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, also tested negative for the virus on Friday morning, and later in the day he departed for a previously scheduled campaign trip to Michigan.

But one negative test after a possible exposure is not enough to guarantee that a person hasn’t contracted the virus, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.

“All the people who said they were at the debate or at the rally here in Minnesota, or at a fundraiser here in Minnesota this week, none of those tests really are that meaningful to me yet by saying they’re negative,” Osterholm said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” 

The absence of Trump’s adult children and their significant others from the campaign trail will send a noticeable chill across the president’s reelection effort. Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Eric Trump and his wife, Lara Trump, have emerged as some of Trump’s most visible campaign surrogates, attending events all over the country and holding near daily livestreamed events on the president’s behalf.

The differences between Trump’s campaign events and those held by his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, became a central point of focus following the president’s diagnosis — given that Trump has repeatedly mocked Biden for the safety precautions the former vice president takes at his campaign events.

During Tuesday’s debate, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask, which the CDC recommends as a key element of preventing infection.

“I don’t wear face masks like him,” Trump said of Biden. “Every time you see him he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away … and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

Trump also mocked Biden for not holding large rallies the way Trump has been doing since late August. Many, if not most, of the people at Trump’s rallies are squeezed closely together and not wearing masks. Several of the rallies have been held in defiance of state and municipal orders that prohibit large gatherings.

Notably, former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain died from Covid-19 after attending a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the summer.

Biden, meanwhile, has strictly enforced social distancing, masks and crowd limits at his events. As a result, his campaign events have featured chairs spaced far apart and typically just a few dozen people.

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