President Donald Trump on Friday wouldn’t definitively say he was testing negative for coronavirus in his first televised interview since contracting the deadly disease one week ago.
In a made-for-TV health analysis aired as a recording on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, Trump took questions on topics his doctors and White House officials have repeatedly avoided addressing but stopped short of offering concrete details and addressing lingering concerns over his condition.
The president was interviewed from the White House via videolink by an NYU doctor and Fox News contributor, Marc Siegel, who was based in New York.
When asked if he had been retested since his diagnosis, Trump said he had, adding, “I’m either the bottom of the scale or free,” without further explanation, although he was likely referring to viral load. He didn’t offer further clarity on when he was tested or how often.
When asked about his chest scans, the president was also vague, saying doctors found “some congestion” but “it tested good” — which also could not be confirmed given a lack of public information about the president’s lung scans.
Trump also said he’d felt fatigued during his stay at Walter Reed Medical Center but did not have difficulty breathing — despite video of the president after his return to the White House on Monday that appeared to show him wincing and gasping for air.
“I didn’t feel strong, I didn’t have a problem with breathing, which a lot of people seem to have. I had none of that,” Trump said. “But I didn’t feel very strong, I didn’t feel very vital, I didn’t feel like the president of the U.S. should feel.”
Trump also said he was no longer taking the steroid dexamethasone as part of his treatment — a drug that can cause euphoria in some patients. When Siegel asked if he felt any side effects of the drug on his mental state, Trump said no.
Despite the president’s opacity on the specifics of his health, he is planning to return to in-person public engagements this weekend, starting with a rally from the White House on Saturday.
Sean Conley, the president’s physician, said in a note Thursday that the president was fit to restart public events this weekend after completing his therapy. Trump had initially expressed interest in holding a campaign rally at the weekend, but that did not materialize. Trump plans to host a full-scale campaign rally in Florida on Monday.
Despite the president’s diagnosis, his campaign events continue to largely eschew or weakly enforce guidelines intended to prevent the spread of the virus. Many attendees continue to remove their masks and Donald Trump Jr. this week hosted a packed rally inside a Panama City, Fla., hotel.
But the president acknowledged that he likely contracted the disease at one of the White House events last week where social distancing and mask wearing were far from the norm.
“They had some big events at the White House. Perhaps there. I don’t really know, nobody really knows for sure,” Trump told Siegel. “Numerous people have contracted it, but people have contracted it all over the world — it’s highly contagious. That’s one thing you learn, this is a contagious disease.”
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